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Supplies of Medical Isotopes

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posted on Mar, 22 2011 @ 07:10 AM
I didn't see any prior posts directly tackling this issue. I'll sum it up with a quote from an article:

"Although the public may not be fully aware, we are in the midst of a global shortage of medical and other isotopes," said Robert Atcher, Ph.D., MBA, in an interview. "If we don't have access to the best isotopes for medical imaging, doctors may be forced to resort to tests that are less accurate, involve higher radiation doses, are more invasive, and more expensive."


I stumbled upon it while doing research for a sideproject of mine. The article is from last year, so, it isn't that fresh, but I haven't seen or heard anything about this in the news, or anywhere else really. It seems like it could blow up into a big issue:

Atcher also noted that the United States is highly dependent on foreign suppliers of medical isotopes. Only about 10-15 percent of the isotopes used in medicine are produced domestically. The nuclear medicine community has been pressuring the U.S. government to develop improved domestic capability for producing these materials to reduce this dependence, Atcher said.

That's from the same source above.

From what I gather, the shortage is linked to the fact that medical isotopes are byproducts from nuclear reactors, and there are only a handful of entities which operate to bring these materials from the reactors, to the doctors.

Some other supporting articles:

Chalk River makes 1st isotopes in 15 Months
Medical isotope shortage hits Halifax

posted on Mar, 22 2011 @ 07:21 AM
The issues surrounding the Chalk River facility are interesting indeed. Think of a federal government involvement and politically motivated machinations that brought about an international crisis regarding those life-saving medical isotopes.

Had the warnings for a preventative refit been heeded rather than firing the station manager who put out those warnings, the ongoing situation and shortage of isotopes could have been averted.

IMO... it was a case of greed overpowering need.

Dig deep down that rabbit hole.

posted on Mar, 22 2011 @ 09:52 AM
Absolutely. At the moment, it seems to be an inadvertent consequence of those machinations, but I wonder if it could also become a finely-wielded political tool that can be intentionally wielded as well. Something along the lines of oil, or water--just look at OPEC, and Malaysia-Singapore water relations, respectively.

Water would probably be a better analogy because it is a resource that we simply cannot live with out. Similarly, there doesn't seem to be any alternative to medical isotopes (at least for some of the medical purposes for which they currently are used).

posted on Mar, 22 2011 @ 10:00 AM
Remember all the hoohah over the Iranian Uranium enrichment to 20%? Well, that comes from a research reactor used for producing medical isotopes (a lot of the press left that bit out - why ruin a good scare story!).

I remember seeing a few months ago, when Israel and the US wanted the reactor shut down, that it would affect thier medical facilities, and that suppliers of those isotopes were dwindling.

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