1887

FORTHCOMING

The Supply of Medical Isotopes

An Economic Diagnosis and Possible Solutions

image of The Supply of Medical Isotopes

This report explores the main reasons behind the unreliable supply of Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) in health-care systems and policy options to address the issue. Tc-99m is used in 85% of nuclear medicine diagnostic scans performed worldwide – around 30 million patient examinations every year. These scans allow diagnoses of diseases in many parts of the human body, including the skeleton, heart and circulatory system, and the brain. Medical isotopes are subject to radioactive decay and have to be delivered just-in-time through a complex supply chain. However, ageing production facilities and a lack of investment have made the supply of Tc-99m unreliable. This report analyses the use and substitutability of Tc-99m in health care, health-care provider payment mechanisms for scans, and the structure of the supply chain. It concludes that the main reasons for unreliable supply are that production is not economically viable and that the structure of the supply chain prevents producers from charging prices that reflect the full costs of production and supply.

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Key findings

Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is the most commonly used radioisotope in nuclear medicine (NM) diagnostic scans. It is essential for accurate diagnoses of diseases and effective patient care in health systems of OECD countries. For example, Tc‑99m is used for diagnoses of cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders including dementia and movement disorders.

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