Recently, there has been several public announcements in print and on Canadian television & radio regarding an upcoming shortage in the supply of medical isotopes. In these reactionary articles, while based on the closure of Canada’s NRU reactor, the authors do consider the steps taken within the nuclear medicine industry to ensure a steady supply of isotopes for the nuclear medicine community.
IsoLogic’s business lifeline is tied directly to the daily supply of medical isotopes to manufacture our radiopharmaceuticals. Our professional team, that includes radiopharmacists, radiochemists and physicists, has been monitoring this situation since the last isotope shortage (2009) that affected the entire nuclear medicine practice. Confidently, we can advise that the closure of one reactor will not affect the availability of medical isotopes and that nuclear medicine patients will have their scans completed.
These are the reasons for our convictions:
While the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor located in Chalk River remains on schedule for shutdown later this year; it will remain open for the emergency medical supply, until 2018.
Both major Molybdenum-99 processors, Lantheus and IBA Molecular (formerly Mallinckrodt Nuclear Imaging) have been contacted and predict no interruptions in the supply of Mo-99 / Tc99m generators nor any other medical isotopes as a result of the NRU shutdown.
The Nuclear Energy Association, an inter-governmental organization within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), issued the “2015 Medical Isotope Supply Review: 99Mo / 99mTc Market Demand and Production Capacity Projection 2015-2020”. It underlines that market demand is around 10% lower than had been previously estimated and that the recent demand level is relatively flat. The overall conclusion was that supply capacity should be sufficient in 2016 to manage adverse events. If planned additional capacity is successfully introduced in 2017, then the supply until 2020 should also be secure.
Sally Schwarz, President of the Society of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging says, “Nonetheless, industry and governments have done a good job of coordinating international production and shipping of technetium since 2009, and is optimistic that any supply disruptions will be minimal”.
Since the last isotope shortage, new reactors have become operational, additional existing reactors have been scheduled for Mo-99 production and new technologies in the Mo-99 production have been proven. successful which will be commercially available in 2018.
Finally, we all understand that in the unforeseen event of a second reactor failure, there may be an interruption in our supply. However, the special relationship between IsoLogic and our customers will provide you with a secure source of isotopes. Since IsoLogic has a priority status as a commercial centralized radiopharmacy, IsoLogic will receive available generators multiple times during the week. This is done to ensure that centralized commercial radiopharmacies, who manufacture diagnostic agents, can distribute to the widest possible population area.
Our objective will be to communicate updates on this situation and respond to your questions. We strive to be the best possible nuclear medicine solution for your organization.