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Accelerating production: the global shortage of medical isotopes

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Thesis type
(Project) M.P.P.
Date created
Closures for unexpected repairs and routine maintenance of the five leading medical isotope producing nuclear reactors leads to worldwide isotope shortages. These shutdowns will reoccur with increasing corrosion of the aging facilities. Medical isotope shortages compromise the health of people across the world. This study examines why global shortages of medical isotopes come about, their impact on patient care in Canada and what role Canada can play to reduce future shortages. A literature review, case study and expert interviews were used to generate data and develop policy options. The findings indicate Canada should aim for slight redundancy in domestic medical isotope production without employing highly enriched uranium and efficiently use available medical resources. Recommendations are to build a network of cyclotrons across the country, fund R&D into photo-fission technology, increase the Health Technology Assessment Task Group’s role and revise CNSC’s mandate to include consideration of isotope use.
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