September 16, 2016

Report Finds Short Term Risk for Tc 99m Supply Disruptions

A new, highly anticipated National Academies report predicts U.S. demand could be met through international sources of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the short-lived workhorse isotope for nuclear medicine imaging, but supply will be precarious in the final months of 2016 after Canada discontinues commercial production at National Research Universal (NRU) reactor, the primary North American source of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the parent isotope of Tc-99m.

The report, which was released Sept. 12, indicates international producers and suppliers plan to adequately cover U.S. demand for Mo-99, but that much of the strategy is not expected to fully kick in until 2017. The authors recommend that the U.S. work diligently with Canada to clarify plans for swift emergency intervention by the NRU reactor to cover any Mo-99 shortages in North America. The Canadian government has already committed to keeping NRU online for emergency mitigation of unforeseen shortages until March 2018.

In addition to its comprehensive evaluation of the Mo-99/Tc-99m market, the report briefly addresses other isotopes related to Mo-99 production processes, notably iodine-131 and xenon-133. Special attention is paid to the U.S. government’s implementation of the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2012 (AMIPA), including cooperative agreements with private companies to produce Mo-99 domestically using alternative technologies to those that involve irradiating highly enriched uranium (HEU) targets in research reactors, and at a full-cost recovery business model rather than with government subsidization.

The report, entitled “Molybdenum-99 for Medical Imaging,” was mandated by AMIPA. It updates the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report on the same topic.

The American College of Radiology supported passage of AMIPA during the legislative process and continues to be involved in the White House Mo-99 stakeholder working group together with other professional associations, federal agencies and industry groups.

Inquiries about the National Academies report may be directed to Michael Peters, ACR director of regulatory and legislative affairs at 202-223-1670 /