The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Bill for U.S. Domestic Production of Medical Isotopes Passed by House of Representatives

683px-Schematicky_atomThe shut-down of Ontario’s Chalk River reactor, which used to supply 30% of the world’s medical isotope requirements, and 60% of U.S. isotope needs, has prompted Congressional action in the U.S.

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 3276 — the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2009 — finding that “[t]he United States should move expeditiously to ensure that an adequate and reliable supply of molybdenum-99 can be produced in the United States, without the use of highly enriched uranium.”

Both parts of that finding are important:

  1. supply of molybdenum-99 produced in the United States, because of the heavy impact on U.S. patients (16 million medical procedures annually); and
  2. without the use of highly enriched uranium, because reducing the need for highly enriched uranium is part of the U.S.’ nuclear security agenda. 

The bill would provide funding of $163,000,000 (over FYs 2010-2014) for a program to evaluate and support projects for domestic production of medical isotopes.

In Canada, the latest plan is to spin off and privatize the “reactor business” unit of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL).  The Chalk River reactor is facing $70 million of repairs and/or an uncertain long-term future.

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