Radiation Applications

Molybdenum-99 / Australia Facility Gets Licence From Regulator

By David Dalton
17 June 2019

Australia Facility Gets Licence From Regulator
The new nuclear medicine facility in Australia. Photo courtesy Ansto.

A new nuclear medicine facility in Australia has received a licence from the regulator and has begun supplying nuclear medicine to Australian patients.

Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) said the facility, part of a €115m investment programme at Ansto, will now move into full production after undertaking limited manufacturing of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) since April.

Ansto, a public research organisation, has long supplied the needs of Australians with Mo-99, but global supply of the isotope has come under threat in recent years because of the closure of ageing research reactors worldwide.

“Since our Opal reactor is one of the newest and most reliable research reactors of its type in the world, Australia is stepping up to fill the gap,” Ansto said.

Ansto had been producing around 500,000 patient doses of Mo-99 a year for more than 250 hospitals and nuclear medicine centres across the country. The new facility will allow Ansto to triple its production capacity.

World demand for Mo-99 is in the order of 40 million doses a year, which is increasing as more countries industrialise, and modernise their health systems.

Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), which is used in approximately 85% of all Australian nuclear medicine procedures.

It is the world’s most commonly used nuclear medicine, with tens of millions of patients needing access to the medicine around the world every year.

Depending on demand and supply, which fluctuates from week to week, the new facility has the ability to meet up to 25% of global needs.

“This is the most advanced and safest manufacturing facility for nuclear medicine on the planet today,” said Ansto chief executive officer Adi Paterson.

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