Supply of radio-isotopes for medical use

Radio-isotopes (radiopharmaceuticals) are routinely used for non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of a range of important and common conditions like cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

These specific biological molecules, tagged with medical radio-isotopes, are also called "tracers" because – administered in very small (trace) quantities – they allow us to trace biological processes.

Global shortage of radio-isotopes

The most widely-used medical radio-isotopes are produced in nuclear reactors. In 2008, unplanned shut-downs of all 3 EU reactors that produce radio-isotopes has caused a shortage of radio-isotopes for medical use (Molybdenum-99 / Technetium-99m) in the EU.

The supply situation has since become a matter of worldwide concern, with the world's largest producer of Molybdenum-99 – Canada's National Research Universal (NRU) reactor – also shut down for repair since May 2009.

EU report on radio-isotope supplypdf(2 MB) (October 2009)

EU Council conclusions – secure supplies of medical radioisotopespdf(134 KB) (December 2009) – calls for EU and national proposals to ensure sufficient supplies.