Petten isotope increase to provide only short respite

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Canadian hospitals will see partial relief from the medical isotope shortage as the High Flux nuclear reactor in Petten, the Netherlands, boosts its production to fill some of the void caused by the recent and unexpected shutdown of the Chalk River facility in Ontario.

However, the respite will be short lived, reported the Toronto Sun.

Doug Abrams, president of the Canadian Society of Nuclear Medicine (CSNM), said the shortage will ease as the Petten reactor enhances production by 50 percent.

However, the Petten facility will close for four weeks of maintenance around July 18, plunging the istope back into uncertainty, as the Chalk River reactor stays dark. By late July, Canadian hospitals will get only 25 to 35 percent of normal supply, Abrams said.

In other news, isotope supplier Covidien is charging roughly 50 percent above previous prices for many Ontario hospitals, reported the Toronto Sun.

Covidien spokesman Stephen Littlejohn said that the price increases were due to higher costs over time, as the company tries to find a more reliable isotope supply. He said the increases were planned before Chalk River closed and that Covidien has supplied isotopes to non-contracted customers during the current crisis at "considerable" cost, the Toronto Sun reported.