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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2305

(Question No. 571)

Senator Sanders asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 9 October 1985:

(1) Which medical radioisotopes are currently produced on a commercial basis by the HIFAR reactor.

(2) Which, if any, of these reactor-produced radioisotopes are being phased out of medical practice in Australia and overseas.

(3) Can any or all of the HIFAR-produced medical radioisotopes be also produced by a multi-purpose cyclotron.

(4) Are cyclotrons taking over from reactors worldwide as producers of medical radioisotopes.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The following radioisotopes for use in medicine are produced using the reactor HIFAR: Technetium-99m (70 per cent of production), Bromine-82, Chromium-51, Cobalt-60, Copper-64, Gold-198, Iodine-131, Potassium-42, Sodium-24.

(2) I am advised by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission that none of these radioisotopes are being phased out of medical practice although the usage pattern does vary substantially from time to time and from country to country. The use of technetium in nuclear medicine appears to be rising worldwide.

(3) I am advised that none of the above radioisotopes can be produced economically or in worthwhile quantities in a cyclotron.

(4) No. In general, neutron-deficient cyclotron-produced radioisotopes have different properties from neutron-rich reactor-produced radioisotopes, and these are complementary to one another. While cyclotrons for radioisotope production have been established overseas, reactors have a continuing role in radioisotope production.