EU deal seeks to secure Tc-99m supply beyond 2015

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Stress imaging at 60 minutes
Image source: Richard M. Fleming, MD, cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute of Southern Missouri

The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Institute for Radioelements (IRE) in Fleurus, Belgium, and Ion Beam Applications (IBA) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, three major distributors of radioisotopes for medical exams in Europe, have partnered to secure the supply of technetium-99 (Tc-99m) beyond 2015.

The agreement enables the companies to respond to European needs in medical exams, currently estimated at eight million exams per year, of which 80 percent are performed using Tc-99m. The initiative combines the technological skills and know-how of each company to cover the entire radioisotope manufacturing and distribution chain:

  • CEA will guarantee the irradiation of uranium targets in reactors;
  • IRE will extract molybdenum (Mo-99) and deliver it to distributors of Tc-99m generators;
  • IBA/CIS bio, using Mo-99, will manufacture and distribute Tc-99m generators for hospitals.

The partnership will rely on the following equipment that has recently been put into operation, or is still under development by the three companies, said IBA:

  • Necessary irradiation equipment at CEA’s new reactor, Jules-Horowitz Research (RJH) reactor, currently under construction in Cadarache, France;
  • Renovations at IRE’s manufacturing facility in Fleurus;
  • IBA/CIS bio’s new generator manufacturing lines in Saclay, France.

The three companies will work in the coming months on the technical specifications of RJH reactor’s irradiation systems, with the goal of beginning Mo-99 manufacturing as soon as it is operational, planned for 2015, added IBA.