Curium now manufacturing radio-pharmaceuticals with low-enriched uranium

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | January 30, 2018
Molecular Imaging PET SPECT
The nuclear medicine solutions company Curium recently became the first in North America to fully transition radiopharmaceutical production away from highly-enriched uranium (HEU).

The American Medical Isotope Production Act, which was established in 2012, mandated that manufacturers fully convert to low-enriched uranium (LEU) by January 2020.

Since 2009, 28 reactors have either been shut down or converted to LEU, according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. But as of 2016, 74 civilian research reactors around the world, including eight in the U.S., still use or plan to use HEU fuel.

Curium completed its over seven-year project to convert its molybedenum-99 (Mo-99) processing facility to LEU by late-2017. During that time, the company worked closely with its irradiation partners — the Dutch High Flux Reactor, the Polish MARIA reactor and BR2 in Belgium as well as the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

In April 2017, IBA Molecular and Mallinckrodt Nuclear Medicine LLC united to create Curium. The new company delivers solutions to more than 14 million people from a global network of 21 manufacturing centers.

NNSA and Curium have worked together on the conversion process since 2014, as part of the agency's nonproliferation mission. That support enabled Curium to develop new LEU-based targets and build and test new production equipment and processes for separating the LEU-based Mo-99 after irradiation.

Along with NTP Radioisotopes in South Africa and ANSTO Nuclear Medicine in Australia, Curium is now one of the major global suppliers with 100 percent LEU-based production.

“Our 100 percent LEU conversion helps Curium generator customers eliminate the inefficiency of balancing the availability of both HEU and LEU generators in their inventory, and helps them to control costs better,” Roy Brown, VP of government affairs for Curium North America, said in a statement. “Something that is especially important when you consider the special reimbursement guidelines surrounding LEU versus HEU patient doses.”

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