Radioisotopes essential for diagnostics and treatment of severe diseases Brussels-based nuclear industry association Foratom has called on the European Union to better recognise and support the medical applications of nuclear technology, which play a significant role in the medical sector and help “save thousands of lives each day.”

Foratom said in a joint position paper with Nuclear Medicine Europe that EU policy makers should find ways of promoting new research reactor capacity along with innovation in the sector, and implement a number of recommendations to maintain the current level of medical radioisotopes supply.

According to the paper, in order to ensure that the supply of medical radioisotopes will be continued, the EU needs to develop a “robust” supply chain which goes beyond irradiation, adapt clinical research and development of new radiopharmaceutical compounds, and reconsider reimbursement systems for radiopharmaceutical products.

In addition, the EU should also, among others, renovate the nuclear medicine equipment especially in EU periphery countries, and aim at homogenising at member state level, market access and regulatory framework for the development of new medicines and reimbursement models for nuclear medicine applications.

“The European nuclear medicine sector – like the wider nuclear industry – faces several challenges, from negative attitudes towards nuclear energy and radiation, uncertainty over funding in new nuclear energy capacity and management of nuclear waste,” said Antonis Kalemis, president of trade group Nuclear Medicine Europe.

“It has, however, also its own challenges, such as a regulatory system that needs improvement, sustainable reimbursement models and equal access to modern equipment and applications across all member states,” he said.

Foratom said that nuclear medical applications, which include production of radioisotopes and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, help save thousands of lives each day.

According to the group, every year more than 9 million patients in Europe benefit from nuclear medicine in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular or neurological disorders.

Radioisotopes are produced most commonly in the cores of nuclear research reactors. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that the number of medical procedures using radioisotopes is growing globally, with an increasing emphasis on radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer.

Foratom director-general Yves Desbazeille said: “Although the EU is involved in the nuclear medicine sector and its developments, more has to be done to address the current challenges in order to maintain the edge that the EU enjoys today in this field globally.”

Date: Wednesday, 16 June 2021
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