WARSAW, Poland, February 17, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --
- Addition of Polish Research Reactor Helps With Worldwide Supply Shortage
Covidien (NYSE: COV), a leading global provider of healthcare products, and the Institute of Atomic Energy in Poland (IAE POLATOM) today announced an agreement to augment and further diversify Covidien's supply of Molybdenum 99 (Mo 99) to produce the medical isotope Technetium 99m (Tc 99m).
Tc 99m is a vital medical isotope used in over 80 percent of all nuclear medicine diagnostic and functional studies of organs and anatomical systems. The information from these studies is used by many medical specialists (including radiologists, nephrologists, oncologists and cardiologists) to better diagnose and treat patients. More than 35 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed worldwide each year, more than half in the United States.
Adding the IAE POLATOM'S Maria Research Reactor to Covidien's global supply chain is expected to help Covidien meet the needs of more than one million additional patients in just the first six months after the reactor begins supplying Mo 99.
"This is an historic agreement. It is the first time in decades that a new reactor has been brought into the global supply chain for medical isotopes," said Timothy R. Wright, President, Pharmaceuticals, Covidien. "We are excited that we will now be working together to provide more than a million patients around the globe with access to a critical medical isotope during this serious shortage."
The announcement comes two days before the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten, the Netherlands, is scheduled to begin a six-month shutdown for scheduled repairs. The remaining operating reactors supplying Covidien are the BR2 reactor in Belgium, the Osiris reactor in France and the Safari reactor in South Africa. Canada's National Research Universal (NRU) reactor has been shut down for repairs since May 2009. When operating, the HFR and NRU reactors have typically provided approximately 65 percent of the world's supply of medical isotopes.
The Maria Research Reactor, located approximately 30 km southeast of Warsaw, first operated from 1975 until 1985 when it was taken off line for a complete redesign. It resumed normal operations in 1993. Maria is considered to be a relatively new reactor, compared with the other five aging reactors that supply most of the world's medical isotopes.
Today's announcement is the culmination of more than six months' collaboration between Covidien and IAE POLATOM. Processing of Mo 99 produced during a test irradiation at the Maria Research Reactor last week is currently underway at our Petten facility. Tc 99m derived from the Mo 99 produced in Poland should be commercially available to help meet European needs within 30 days. Approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pending for use in the United States and from Health Canada for use in Canada.
"We are pleased to be cooperating with Covidien to use the scientific advancements we have made here at the Institute of Atomic Energy and the Maria Research Reactor to meet the healthcare needs of patients throughout the world at such a critical time," said Prof. Krzysztof Wieteska, Director of IAE POLATOM.
The agreement is the most recent example of steps the Company has taken to actively manage the current medical isotope shortage. Since early 2009, Covidien has:
- Actively supported additional Mo 99 production cycles and an increase in the number of targets at Belgium's BR2 reactor during the shutdown of the HFR in the Netherlands. - Increased the production of potential alternative, clinically appropriate medical isotopes, such as thallium Tl 201. - Communicated frequently and directly with nuclear medicine providers about the supply challenge, providing detailed monthly calendars projecting the availability of Tc 99m generators on a daily basis. - Published these calendars and supply updates on a public website: http://www.covidien.com/Mo99supply. - Encouraged clinicians to be more efficient in scheduling procedures and ordering Tc 99m - based products to maximize the number of doses available to the greatest number of patients.
"This agreement with the IAE POLATOM will help us meet our short- and long-term needs for Molybdenum 99," said Wright. "We look forward to a productive relationship for the benefit of patients around the world."
NOTE TO MEDIA:
Covidien and IAE POLATOM will hold a press conference today beginning at 14:30 Central European Time (8:30 a.m. US ET) at the PAP Press Center in Warsaw, Poland.
It will be webcast and can be accessed at: http://www.covidien.com/Mo99supply, along with fact sheets, photos, illustrations and other materials.
ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR ATOMIC ENERGY - IAE POLATOM
The Institute for Atomic Energy, IAE POLATOM, was formed in 1983 to conduct ongoing research and development of nuclear energy and nuclear techniques, including the development and marketing of pharmaceuticals and diagnostic kits containing radioisotopes.
ABOUT THE MARIA RESEARCH REACTOR
The Maria Research Reactor is a 30 MW high flux reactor located on the IAE campus just outside of Warsaw, Poland. It first operated from 1975 until 1985. Over the next eight years it underwent a complete redesign and modernization. The reactor has been in continuous operation since it resumed normal operations in 1993. For this reason it is considered to be a relatively new reactor with an operating life extending beyond 2020.
Covidien is a leading global healthcare products company that creates innovative medical solutions for better patient outcomes and delivers value through clinical leadership and excellence. Covidien manufactures, distributes and services a diverse range of industry-leading product lines in three segments: Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies. With 2009 revenue of $10.7 billion, Covidien has 42,000 employees worldwide in more than 60 countries, and its products are sold in over 140 countries. Please visit http://www.covidien.com to learn more about our business.
Any statements contained in this communication that do not describe historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements contained herein are based on our management's current beliefs and expectations, but are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and changes in circumstances, which may cause actual results or Company actions to differ materially from what is expressed or implied by these statements. The factors that could cause actual future results to differ materially from current expectations include, but are not limited to, the possibility that the Maria Research Reactor may not be able to supply Mo 99 in a volume or form sufficient to meet our needs or at all, our ability to effectively introduce and market new products or keep pace with advances in technology, the reimbursement practices of a small number of large public and private insurers, cost-containment efforts of customers, purchasing groups, third-party payers and governmental organizations, intellectual property rights disputes, complex and costly regulation, including healthcare fraud and abuse regulations, manufacturing or supply chain problems or disruptions, rising commodity costs, recalls or safety alerts and negative publicity relating to Covidien or its products, product liability losses and other litigation liability, including legacy Tyco-related litigation, divestitures of some of our businesses or product lines, our ability to execute strategic acquisitions of, investments in or alliances with other companies and businesses, competition, risks associated with doing business outside of the United States, foreign currency exchange rates or potential environmental liabilities. These and other factors are identified and described in more detail in our filings with the SEC. We disclaim any obligation to update these forward-looking statements other than as required by law.
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