Van Zyl de Villiers, Past-President World Council on Isotopes, April 2018: The production and supply of key medical radioisotopes, especially molybdenum-99, but also iodine-131 and xenon-133, continue to be of major interest to the isotope industry, the healthcare community and policy makers. The main players have been very successful in improving security of supply after the shortages experienced during 2009-2010, but also underline that the present form of the 99Mo/99mTc market remains economically unsustainable. See www.wci-ici.org for all newsletter issues.
Robert Schenter, physicist: He specialized in the production of radioisotopes in reactors for nuclear medicine. Much of nuclear medicine depends on a steady supply of an isotope called molybdenum-99—“Mo-99” for short. A by-product of nuclear fission, Mo-99 decays to produce another radioactive substance, technetium-99m, which is employed in more than 16 million nuclear imaging procedures every year in the United States alone, including sentinel node biopsies in cancer surgery, bone scans, and cardiac stress tests.
David Kramer: The first US production in 30 years of molybdenum-99, the parent isotope of the most widely used medical radioisotope, is expected to begin within weeks after federal regulators approved a manufacturing process developed by Wisconsin-based NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes. NorthStar received $25 million in matching funds from DOE for development of the neutron capture process and $14.8 million of an expected $25 million total for its accelerator approach.
IAEA, International Energy Agency, Jeremy Li: As the major research reactors that supply Mo-99 age and cease production, the alternative method discussed in the paper offers a simplified way to diversify production and help ensure continued supplies of Mo-99 so that nuclear medicine services are not interrupted. In 2009, reactors producing Mo-99 in Canada and the Netherlands were temporarily shut down for necessary repairs and maintenance. This caused major disruption in health care services worldwide, leading to cancelled medical scans and postponed operations, and in some cases requiring medical professionals to revert back to using old, less effective techniques.