Industry Sees Strong Path Forward on Converting to non-Highly Enriched Uranium-based sources for Medical Imaging


SAN ANTONIO, /PRNewswire/ -- Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) is a nuclear substance that can be used to create a nuclear weapon. The Nuclear Threat Initiative has called HEU "one of the most dangerous materials on the planet."1

Picture of industry leaders participating in UPPI's roundtable discussion

However, isotopes that can be derived from HEU (Mo-99, Tc-99m) are also used in 50,000 medical imaging procedures daily. They are used to identify cancer, heart disease and other medical challenges, and save thousands of lives a day.

It has been the policy of the United States and the International community to support the establishment of a reliable supply of Mo-99 without the use of HEU, in order to minimize the use of proliferation sensitive materials.

UPPI, LLC. has been on the forefront of leading the effort to convert the material used in these procedures from dangerous HEU to benign LEU. In 2014, UPPI was recognized by the Department of Energy for its leadership in establishing effective conversion efforts. More than 53 UPPI members have also been recognized by the Department since then, including an additional 14 members recognized at the UPPI Annual Meeting. UPPI is proud of our commitment and leadership in the effort to achieve complete conversion to non-HEU-based Mo-99 production.

"UPPI was proud to help facilitate the recognition of 14 UPPI members for providing supplies of Mo-99 radiopharmaceutical products produced with low enriched uranium and supporting the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration mission to minimize the use of HEU in commercial applications," said Witkowski. "The commitment of these leaders in the industry is an important milestone and helps maintain awareness of this important engagement by the Department of Energy."

UPPI has also joined with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to help foster the development of a U.S. based supply of Mo-99 produced without HEU. UPPI hosted a round-table of ten stakeholders representing government and industry to discuss the challenges of producing and bringing non-HEU medical products to the market.

The discussion included an NNSA representative along with distributors and providers who operate in various stages on of producing domestic non-HEU Mo-99, and other non-HEU medical isotopes. The discussion addressed the current opportunities and challenges such domestic production, including; unforeseen regulatory hurdles, or ones which were more extensive than anticipated; policy challenges; and ways to support domestic production. The discussion provided participants, UPPI members, Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs) and the federal government with transparency into how their peers are approaching problems in producing and distributing non-HEU based Mo- 99.  These discussions enable all those involved to benefit from a discussion of how their counterparts are tackling associated challenges, and their proposed solutions.

"Now is a key time for the industry to compare notes," said John Witkowski, the President of UPPI. "Domestic non-HEU-based Mo-99 is just coming on line, and policy support for the industry is at an all-time high. But we still have challenges that we want to highlight and discuss. Informing policy makers of how they can support the industry to achieve this goal will help drive engagement and awareness of this important issue."

The participants for the panel were:

  • BWX Technologies, Inc.
  • Coqui Radiopharmaceuticals Corporation
  • Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, Material Management and Minimalization
  • GreenTec-99, Inc.
  • International Isotopes Inc.
  • Lantheus Medical Imaging, Inc.
  • NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC.
  • SHINE Medical Technologies Corporation
  • Vizient

Companies that were recognized:

  • NuTech College Station TX
  • NuTech Tyler TX
  • Duke University Medical Center Radiopharmacy Durham NC
  • Alamo Isotopes San Antonio TX
  • Austin Nuclear Pharmacy Austin TX
  • Specialty Pharmacy Services Temple TX
  • Integrated Nuclear Enterprises Topeka KS
  • Integrated Nuclear Enterprises West Hays KS
  • Music City Nuclear Pharmacy Nashville TN
  • Cumberland Isotopes London KY
  • University of New Mexico Translational Radiopharmacy Albuquerque NM
  • GammaMed North Jackson OH
  • Shertech Pharmacy Spartanburg SC
  • Mid-America Isotopes Ashland MO

UPPI's 2019 Conference will be held in September in New Orleans.


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