Europe must take action to maintain the current level of medical radioisotopes supply, according to a joint position paper from Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, and Nuclear Medicine Europe, which represents pharmaceutical and imaging equipment companies in the field of nuclear medicine. They say the European Union should promote new research reactor capacity along with innovation in the sector and the design modification of the current fleet.

(Image: Foratom and Nuclear Medicine Europe)

The position paper - Medical Uses of Nuclear Technology: Role, Challenges and Perspectives - explains the technicalities of nuclear medicine, presents the scope of the current nuclear medicine sector in the EU as well as highlights the challenges that need to be overcome both at regulatory and supply chain levels.

The paper notes nuclear technology plays a significant role in the medical sector. Medical applications, which include production of radioisotopes and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, help save thousands of lives each day. Every year, more than nine million patients in Europe benefit from nuclear medicine in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular or neurological disorders.

"The European nuclear medicine sector, while doing its best to provide Europeans with the required medical services, is currently facing a number of challenges," it says. "These may have a significant impact on its future role in the EU if no changes are implemented."

The paper says a number of key issues related to supply chain investment needs and regulatory framework must be addressed in order to maintain the edge that the EU enjoys today in this field globally and the current level of medical radioisotopes supply as well as to address the increasing demand that is forecasted.

Foratom and Nuclear Medicine Europe say the EU should: promote new research reactor capacity along with innovation; reconsider reimbursement systems and levels for radiopharmaceutical products; develop a robust supply chain which goes beyond irradiation; and, reconsider and adapt clinical R&D of new radiopharmaceutical compounds.

They recommend the EU: better recognises and supports the role of nuclear technology and its non-power applications; quickly takes the actions identified in the European Commission's SAMIRA (Strategic Agenda for Medical Ionising Radiation Applications) Action Plan, adopted in February 2021; supports the implementation and use of low-enriched uranium; homogenises market access at the Member State level; supports regulatory frameworks for the development of new medicines and reimbursement models for nuclear medicine applications; renovates nuclear medicine equipment, especially in the EU periphery countries; and, secures a level playing field for the development of low-carbon technologies.

"Nuclear technology offers many different important applications apart from providing low-carbon electricity at an affordable cost," said Foratom Director General Yves Desbazeille. "Nuclear medicine is one of them as it enables access to diagnostic and lifesaving treatments technologies. 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."

Antonis Kalemis, president of Nuclear Medicine Europe, added: "The European nuclear medicine sector - like the wider nuclear industry - faces several challenges, from negative attitudes towards nuclear energy/radiation, uncertainty over funding in new nuclear energy capacity and the management of nuclear waste.

"We recommend that nuclear technology and its non-power applications should be better recognised and supported at the EU level. We also call for an EU roadmap dedicated to nuclear medicine research and development."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Original article: