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SNM expresses serious concerns as isotope shortage looms
Date:8/27/2008

RESTON, Va.A shutdown announced yesterday at a nuclear reactor facility at Petten in the Netherlands threatens the ability of countries across the globe to access and obtain radioactive isotopes, which are critical for performing many common nuclear medicine procedures in the United States and worldwide. The shutdown at the High Flux Reactor in Petten comes after a similar shutdown last December of the National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Canada by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

"SNM has serious concerns about this most recent outage," said SNM President Robert W. Atcher, Ph.D., M.B.A. "A combination of anticipated outages at other production reactors, coupled with unanticipated shutdowns, is simply devastating. The impact on the patients who are in need of diagnostic tests using these radioisotopes is very serious. The United States and other countries are not prepared to adequately deal with the current situationlet alone anticipate other situations as they continue to arise. Following the shutdown of Canada's Chalk River facility late last year, we simply cannot afford to sit and wait as the situation continues to worsen," added the emerging medical technology team leader at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The nuclear facility at Petten produces molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which is the most widely used isotope in nuclear medicine. Mo-99 is artificially produced through the fission process and has a half-life of 66 hours, meaning that it cannot be produced and stored. Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, which are dispensed by pharmacists or sold over-the-counter, nuclear reactors produce radioactive isotopes that are processed and provided to hospitals and other nuclear medicine facilities based on demand.

"This could be described as a perfect storm in isotope availability," said Atcher. "This is a cumulative situation where we cannot maintain a patchwork approach to isotope production and supply. It
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Contact: Amy Shaw
ashaw@snm.org
703-652-6773
Society of Nuclear Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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