Toronto – November 10, 2022 – There is mounting concern in Canada and around the world that a global medical isotope shortage of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) is impacting patients. As a result, doctors will have to start rescheduling patients in need of diagnostic procedure and prioritizing urgent scans. In the interim, hospitals may also have to use alternative, sometimes less effective, tests. For patients in need of life-saving diagnoses, this may pose dangerous risks if supply gaps for medical isotopes are not filled quickly.
Our modern healthcare system relies on a robust, diversified supply chain network for critical isotopes. However, this shortage not only reveals the fragility of the global supply chain for essential medical isotopes like Mo-99, but an overarching concern about the reliability and redundancy of supply of many other critical isotopes used in life-saving treatments.
To address these concerns, Canadian companies and CNIC members have been active in developing solutions to ensure reliability, redundancy, and scalability in the supply of isotopes. By leveraging our existing infrastructure, the Canadian Medical Isotope Ecosystem is working together diligently to position Canada as a leader across all stages of the isotope production cycle, but most importantly to ensure that patients have access to the critical isotopes they need, when they need them.
Thankfully, in Canada, we are starting from a position of strength thanks to our diverse cyclotron and accelerator networks, and our concentration of nuclear power reactors. Through innovation, Canadian companies are demonstrating how power reactors, for the first time, can be used to produce medical isotopes. Due to the unique design of the CANDU reactors, medical isotopes can be irradiated and removed while the reactor is online, without interrupting the reactor’s power operations. This capability enables the production of medical isotopes at a scale never before seen.
The worlds research reactors cannot do it alone and unforeseen disruptions, like in this case, can have devastating effects worldwide. Instead, we must leverage the work and leadership of our Canadian isotope companies and establish a secure stream of diagnostic isotopes both here at home and around the world. Canada has a position of strength and our medical isotope capabilities must be seen as a strategic priority moving forward.
Experts predict that the shortage should be resolved by the week of November 21st, but lessons must be learned from this worldwide shortage. We must work diligently to ensure that patients across Canada can rely on readily available diagnostic procedures and life-saving isotopes.
About the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council
The CNIC is a coalition of science, healthcare and nuclear-sector organizations to ensure Canada remains a world leader in the production of life-saving isotopes by bringing awareness and supporting long-term policies at the domestic and international level that will save countless lives and support health-care innovation for decades to come.
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council