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Australia to grow radiopharmaceutical production

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | May 13, 2014
Australia's Minister for Industry announced last week that the country will triple its radiopharmaceutical production by investing in a $157 million nuclear medicine facility run by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO).

ANSTO, which currently produces 550,000 doses of Molybdenum-99 (Moly-99) annually, is expected to triple that rate with the new investment.

Moly-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m and is used in roughly 85 percent of nuclear medicine studies.

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"By investing in this new facility, the Australian government has positioned Australia as a global leader in the manufacture of nuclear medicines," said Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane.

While the project is ideal for the growing demand of nuclear medicine imaging scans in Asian countries that are near Australia (Moly-99 only has a 66 hour half-life), the new facility likely won't be a solution for the Moly-99 shortage troubles that have plagued the U.S. in recent years.

The reactor that has produced the majority of Moly-99 for the U.S. is located in Canada. However, that facility is nearly 50 years old and is slated for closure in 2016. Finding and building an alternative reactor is complex and U.S. officials are still trying to figure out a solution.

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