May 12, 2017

Mo99 Workgroup Carries on Under Trump White House

The Department of Energy (DOE)-National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) hosted the regular U.S. Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) Stakeholders/Interagency Workgroup meeting May 4, the first such meeting of the longstanding workgroup since the recent transition to the Trump Administration. The American College of Radiology (ACR) has participated in the group since its establishment in 2011.

The workgroup serves as a forum for the federal government, industry and professional organizations to share public information regarding efforts to move away from civilian use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) during the medical isotope production process and to simultaneously ensure a stable domestic supply of molybdenum-99/technetium-99m (Mo-99/Tc-99m) for diagnostic imaging.

The group has also served as a point of coordination regarding implementation of the ACR-endorsed American Medical Isotope Production Act (AMIPA) of 2011, a law which authorized NNSA funding for cooperative agreements with domestic partners to research and develop alternative Mo-99 production technologies, among other things. Three recipients of four AMIPA-authorized cooperative agreements are on the path to commercial production within a couple of years, and at least one producer should be commercially producing within a year. Moreover, the AMIPA-mandated low enriched uranium (LEU) lease and take-back program at DOE has contracted with and shipped LEU to at least one prospective producer, a major milestone in that program.

At the May 4 meeting, industry and international experts presented updates and demand/capacity projections for Mo-99. The group generally agreed that, with some minor hiccups, overseas producers are meeting the demand for Mo-99/Tc-99m in North America despite the end of commercial production from the Canadian National Research Universal reactor in October 2016. However, it was generally acknowledged that the supply of these short-lived radioisotopes could be susceptible to disruption if multiple unforeseen problems and/or missed timelines arise over the next two years.

Experts stressed the importance of additional capacity and the on-time commercial introduction of Mo-99 from alternative production technologies, like those funded in part by AMIPA, to avoid shortages through the transition to a post-HEU, full-cost recovery market.

Please direct your questions on this topic to Michael Peters, ACR director of regulatory and legislative affairs, via email or by phone at 202-223-1670.