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Budget 2007: Radiopharmaceutical production to be automated.

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Media Release

Radiopharmaceutical production to be automated

8 May 2007 BUDB 38/07

The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, today announced a $35 million two year Budget initiative which will increase efficiency and provide a state of the art working environment for the production of life-saving radiopharmaceuticals at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

The funding for automation of ANSTO Radiopharmaceuticals and Industrials (ARI) production processes will enable ARI to meet world’s best practice for safety and quality, and will provide the capability to meet growing demand for radiopharmaceutical products into the future.

"The Australian Government’s strong support for science and innovation was recently demonstrated by the official inauguration of the new OPAL research reactor, and is further exemplified by this investment," Minister Bishop said.

"As well as increasing the efficiency of the production of radiopharmaceuticals and radioisotopes, the new processes will provide a best-practice working environment for the people who are producing these lifesaving materials."

Current ARI production processes have grown from laboratory-scale processes established in the 1950s, and are still largely manual. With increased output from the new OPAL research reactor, the ARI facilities need to be upgraded in line with the growth in ARI’s operations, which now play a critical role in supplying nuclear medicines to about half a million Australians suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses each year.

"Importantly, the upgrade to ARI’s production processes will enable the OPAL research reactor’s increased capacity to produce more nuclear medicines than was possible with Australia’s HIFAR reactor," Minister Bishop said.

Media Contacts

Minister Bishop’s Office: Tory Vidler 0414 228 727

Dept of Education, Science & Training: Virginia Cook 0412 971 323

Supporting Information

Why is this important?

• The proposal will ensure that ARI continues to be a reliable supplier of necessary radiopharmaceuticals to the Australian public. • The proposal aims to increase the efficiency of the production of radiopharmaceuticals and radioisotopes to meet growing demand. • It also aims to provide a state of the art working environment for staff.

Who will benefit?

• The more than 500,000 Australians suffering serious injury or illness each year who receive treatment from ARI radiopharmaceuticals and radioisotopes. • ARI staff through world’s-best practice in safety and quality.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

• $30 million in 2007-08; with • ANSTO providing an additional $5 million from its cash reserves in 2008-09.

What have we done in the past?

• ARI’s current radiopharmaceutical production processes have served the nation well but are largely manual. • With increased capacity from the OPAL research reactor, the facilities need to be upgraded in line with increased manufacturing demands.

When will the initiative conclude?

• The end of 2008-09.