Thursday, July 30, 2009

More seemingly random news items

More than 27,000 Quebecers have faced delays in getting cancer and heart tests since the end of May because of the continuing shortage of medical isotopes.

“We are in a state of crisis,” François Lamoureux, president of the Association des médecins spécialistes en médecine nucléaire du Québec, told The Gazette Thursday.

“At least 40 per cent of isotope exams have been postponed.”
“It’s very difficult and it seems that the federal government doesn’t consider this to be a serious problem,” he added.

Hoping to raise awareness about the isotope shortage, the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec launched an email-writing campaign on Thursday aimed at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The coalition is accusing Harper of “negligence toward the population” by failing to address the isotope crisis. The emails are also directed to Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

“The more there are delays, the more the cancer will spread in some patients and the lower the chances of remission,” said Nathalie Rodrigue, a spokesperson for the coalition. (emphasis added)
MDS Nordion, a leading provider of medical
isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals, has submitted a Proposal to the Government
of Canada's Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope and Technetium-99m (Tc-99m)
Generator Production. MDS Nordion believes that the best answer to the
shortage of medical radioisotopes is the completion and bringing into service
of the MAPLE project. The MDS Nordion Proposal outlines technical and
regulatory requirements needed for the provision of a secure supply of medical
isotopes for the health care system in Canada and around the world.

With no domestic or international sources of supply that can fully
mitigate the current global shortage of medical isotopes, MDS Nordion urges
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) to complete the MAPLE project to
address this shortage. With expertise and guidance from the South African
Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), owner and operator of the SAFARI-1
reactor, and working with AECL, MDS Nordion believes a solution could be
achieved in an estimated 24 months.
As a reminder, it's been 20 months since the December 2007 shutdown of Chalk River. In the wake of that shutdown, the Harper government made its decision to mothball the Maples, contrary to those such as MDS above, who believe they can fix it, as they set out today.

(More on the MDS offer in a future post)

For more on this topic, see: Blog Post Index: Medical Isotope crisis & Chalk River shutdown.