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Ongoing worldwide shortage of medical isotopes could threaten patient care, says expert
Date:3/18/2009

ay in France and SAFARI-1 at Pelindaba in South Africa. The UK has no facility for producing Mo-99 of its own. Until fairly recently, production and worldwide distribution were fairly reliable and distributors had managed to arrange contingencies to ensure supplies during scheduled reactor down time or critical shut down.

However, a series of unavoidable maintenance issues and unforeseen events in the industry have recently highlighted the fragile nature of supplies and raised concerns over shortfalls in national provision and a lack of international cooperation.

Since January 2007, there have been five periods of serious disruption to supplies, including a month outage at Chalk River to fix safety back-up systems and a six-month shut down of the Petten reactor from August 2008 after corroded pipes were discovered in its primary cooling circuit.

Professor Perkins added: "The recent supply disruptions at the end of 2008 and early 2009 have adversely affected patient services in many countries including the UK, the majority of Europe, the USA and Canada and beyond.

"In the UK, the supply of Mo-99 to some hospital departments was down to 30 per cent of normal levels. As a result departments have had to prioritise to make the most effective and efficient use of supplies and ensure that tests were provided for those patients most in need.

"However, with pressure on hospitals in England to provide tests within six weeks, there has been concern that this may not have happened in all cases and that priority would be decided based on waiting lists and not clinical judgement."

Professor Perkins added that Britain needed to seriously consider investing in its own production facilities to reduce its reliance on the foreign reactors, which are all more than 40 years old and are approaching their time for decommissioning.

International concern over medical isotope shortages led to an International Workshop on the Sec
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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
44-115-951-5793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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