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Congress Passes Medical Isotope Production Act

Jan 01, 2013

Congress has passed the American Medical Isotope Production Act of 2011, S.99, a bill that will establish a technology-neutral program to support the production of molybdenum-99 for medical uses in the United States by non-federal entities. President Obama signed the bill into law on Jan. 2, 2013.

Supported by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, the bill will ensure that there is sustainable domestic production of Mo-99. Mo-99 is an isotope that decays to technetium-99m, which is used in more than 16.7 million nuclear medicine procedures in the U.S. each year in the detection of heart disease, detection and staging of cancer, detection of thyroid disease, study of brain and kidney function, and imaging of stress fractures.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent and referred it to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

Only eight foreign producers of Mo-99 are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to import the product into the U.S., and no domestic facilities exist that are dedicated to the production of Mo-99 for medical uses. In 2009-2010, due to foreign-based reactor shutdowns, the U.S. experienced a shortage of Mo-99. It led to the disruption or delay of nuclear medicine procedures for an estimated 50,000 patients each day.

In addition to ensuring a sustainable domestic production of Mo-99, S.99 calls for the United States to phase out the export of highly enriched uranium for the production of medical isotopes over a period of seven years.

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