Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the parent isotope of Technetium-99m (Tc-99m), is used in approximately 40,000 diagnostic medical procedures every day in the United States. Mo-99 is one of the most ideal radioisotopes for certain medical imaging tests because it results in the least amount of radioactive exposure for patients. It has a very short half-life and therefore must be produced on a continuous basis to meet the needs of the medical community. Any interruptions in production can place patients at great risk of not getting much-needed “standard of care” diagnostic tests.
The U.S. consumes approximately one-half of the world’s supply of Mo-99, but has no domestic source of supply. The two primary sources of Mo-99 used in the U.S. are located in Canada and the Netherlands, which provide more than half of the world’s supply. These reactors are each nearly 50 years old and will be phased out of commercial isotope production beginning in 2016. Future sources of Mo-99 are not yet readily apparent.