NNSA Recognizes Industry Partners for Efforts to Eliminate HEU in Medical Isotope Production

Press Release
Jul 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently recognized two industry partners for their efforts to eliminate the use of weapons-useable highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the production of medical isotopes. Presented on behalf of NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Anne Harrington, the awards to United Pharmacy Partners, LLC., (UPPI) and Lantheus Medical Imaging, Inc., (LMI) are in recognition of their efforts to increase the use of non-HEU-based molybdenum-99 (Mo-99).

UPPI and LMI have made a significant contribution toward accomplishing NNSA’s goal of ensuring reliable supplies of the isotope Mo-99 through the transition to reliable sources of the isotope using low enriched uranium (LEU). UPPI, through its “LEU Walk” campaign, and LMI, as the largest U.S. supplier of LEU- based Mo-99, have demonstrated a strong dedication to this essential effort.

“Increasing the distribution and use of non-HEU-based Mo-99 is a significant milestone for public health and a critical step toward ending the use of weapons-useable HEU in medical isotope production around the globe,” said Harrington. “NNSA’s efforts, and those of our partners, not only support global nuclear nonproliferation objectives, but are critical to ensuring a reliable global supply of Mo-99.”

NNSA recently hosted the 2014 Mo-99 Topical Meeting, which brings together international and domestic stakeholders and experts to discuss progress toward a reliable supply of the medical isotope Mo-99 is available to patients worldwide, while minimizing the use of HEU in its production.

Technetium-99m, the decay product of the radioisotope Mo-99, is used in approximately 80% of all nuclear medical diagnostic procedures in the United States. The U.S. currently does not have the capability to produce Mo-99 domestically and consequently imports 100% of its domestic supply from international producers, most of which use weapons-usable HEU in the production process. The U.S. is committed to minimizing the use of HEU in civilian applications, including in the production of medical isotopes. As part of its nuclear nonproliferation mission, NNSA works to accelerate the establishment of a diverse, reliable supply of the essential medical isotope Mo-99, produced without the use of HEU.

A fact sheet on GTRI’s Mo-99 efforts is available here.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit www.nnsa.energy.gov for more information.