Nordion secures long-term supply of medical isotopes

Nordion, a subsidiary of Sterigenics International LLC, announced Friday a landmark deal with General Atomics and the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center to establish a new, reliable supply of medical isotopes it says “will serve millions of patients around the world.”

Nordion’s medical isotope president, Tom Burnett, said the agreement consolidates its leadership position in the industry.

“Nordion has found what we believe is the best global solution for the industry – a combination of our best-in-class medical isotope capabilities, with the world-class nuclear reactor and innovative target design expertise of General Atomics and the unparalleled reliability of the University of Missouri Research Reactor,” Mr. Burnett said in a statement.

Health professionals use medical isotopes – a safe radioactive substance – to diagnose about 50 million patients around the world every year.

The National Research Universal reactor (NRU) at Chalk River is Nordion’s primary supplier but it was scheduled to stop production in November 2016. A recent federal government announcement pushed that back to March 2018 in the event of a global shortage of isotopes.

California-based General Atomics’ Selective Gaseous Extraction technology will be used to produce the new supply.

"We are very pleased to work with world-class organizations like Nordion and MURR to solve a major medical isotope supply problem for North America that affects the lives of millions of people," the company’s senior vice-president of energy and advanced concepts, Dr. John Parmentola said in a statement.

MURR executive director Ralph Butler said his centre has a 20-year history with Nordion and is proud to partner with Nordion and General Atomics.

“We take our role in meeting patient needs very seriously, and we are fortunate in Missouri to have such a well-designed reactor and an outstanding staff enabling us to accommodate this important need in the medical community,” Mr. Butler said in a statement.

Routine supply is expected to begin in 2017.