Covidien advises customers about impending molybdenum shortage

August 29, 2008

Covidien has alerted customers for its technetium-99m generators about impending shortages caused by the unexpected shutdown of the Dutch nuclear reactor that serves as its main source of molybdenum-99.

Covidien has alerted customers for its technetium-99m generators about impending shortages caused by the unexpected shutdown of the Dutch nuclear reactor that serves as its main source of molybdenum-99.

General manager Rick Lytle announced the following changes Aug. 27 to the production schedule for its Ultra-Technekow DTE Tc-99m generator:

  • Aug. 31: All standing orders will be filled, but an expected 25% shortfall of MO-99 supply will force the company to reduce generator sizes for all shipments.
  • Sept. 1: No shipments will be made on Labor Day.
  • Sept. 3: Orders will be filled, but their capacities will be cut to reflect a 50% cut in normal MO-99 availability.
  • Sept. 5: No generator orders will be filled.

Covidien depends mainly on the High Flux reactor at Petten in the Netherlands for the production of MO-99 isotope, the precursor isotope to Tc-99m, which is produced as MO-99 decays. The isotope supply chain is susceptible to shortages because of the 66-hour half-life of MO-99.

The Netherlands Energy Research & Consultancy Group announced Aug. 26 that isotope production at the Petten research reactor would cease for at least one month while technicians track down the source of a gas leak between the reactor and the coolant system that was discovered during routine maintenance. Covidien also receives source material from reactors in Europe, Canada, and South Africa. In a written statement, however, the Hazelwood, MO, company said that alternative sources cannot make up for the entire shortfall. The firm is also increasing thallous chloride (TI-201) production as an alternative option for cardiac studies. The company did not disclose how many customers are affected, though they include nuclear medicine facilities in the U.S., Europe, Latin American, Canada, and parts of Asia. For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Nuclear medicine braces for effects of Petten reactor shutdown

SNM panel finds no easy path to expand molybdenum-99 supplies

Canadian agency pulls plug on molybdenum reactors

Isotope supply crash drives push for new moly sources