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Notice given 7 June 2012

1873  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research—In regard to isotope production at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor:

(1) Does ANSTO routinely supply all of Australia’s Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) requirements.

(2) Does ANSTO export Mo-99.

(3) Why has the cost of Mo-99 based generators for Australian patients increased since OPAL was commissioned.

(4) Does ANSTO import Iodine-123 (I-123), Thallium-201 (TI-201) and Gallium-67 (Ga-67); if so, is this because the National Medical Cyclotron was decommissioned in 2009.

(5) Will any of the collaborations entered into by ANSTO be capable of producing I-123, TI-201 and Ga-67.

(6) How much does ANSTO charge for a dose of I-123, used for scanning patients with thyroid cancer, and how much of this is covered by the Medicare rebate.

(7) Does ANSTO’s sale price include a profit margin on the imported price.

(8) Could the cost impost lead to patients having a less effective diagnosis.

(9) Does the OPAL reactor produce Lutetium-177 (Lu-177).

(10) Why is the ANSTO import of Lu-177 more expensive than the international suppliers’ direct charge.

(11) How much does ANSTO charge for Iodine-133 (I-133), used in the treatment of patients with overactive thyroids and the most lethal forms of thyroid cancer.

(12) Is the maximum Medicare rebate for I-133 $417, and the cost of the material to the administering hospital between $688 and $870.

(13) Is there a Medicare rebate for I-133 MIBG, used in the treatment of children with incurable neuroblastoma and some adults with similarly incurable tumours, produced by ANSTO at a cost to the administering hospital of between $4 862 and $7 893.

(14) Can the Minister confirm that patients with metastatic skeletal cancer that is refractory to all other treatments who are treated with Samarium-153 (Sm) Lexidronam produced at ANSTO are charged a minimum of $3 255, with a Medicare rebate of $2 323.

1875  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research—

(1) Did the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) cease fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) production through the National Medical Cyclotron in 2003 and reinstitute supply only in 2010 by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in conjunction with PETNET Solutions.

(2) Did this withdrawal of ANSTO from the market coincide with the increased clinical demand for FDG under the PET data collection program of the Department of Health and Aging.

(3) Did private companies supply the FDG market in the absence of ANSTO production.

(4) Did patients miss out on best management of their illness due to limited supplies of FDG.

(5) Did ANSTO seek advice from the Department of Health and Aging on the roll-out of Medical Benefits Scheme funding for PET.

(6) Was Professor Andrew Scott on the ANSTO Board when approval for PET was given.

(7) Was Professor Scott closely involved with the Department of Health and Aging with respect to PET funding and data collection initiatives.

(8) Has the failure of ANSTO to understand the FDG market size:

(a) led to overinvestment in the capacity of the PETNET Solutions facility, including the investment of $17.5 million in public funds, despite little prospect of commercial return; and

(b) unfairly undermined the business of commercial operators who receive no government funding.

(10) What was the reason for ANSTO increasing its cost base to take on the PETNET Solutions branding.

(11) Given that the PETNET Solutions facility was designed to supply more than FDG, what else has it supplied to date.

1876  Senator Ludlam: To ask the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research—In regard to exploratory partnership discussions between the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and various entities:

(1) On what occasions have discussions taken place between ANSTO and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, regarding the establishment of an ANSTO-sponsored Collaborative Clinical Radiopharmacy Research Facility at the intended Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Melbourne, and what documentation of the discussions, if any, exists.

(2) Have ANSTO funds been allocated to the proposed partnership with the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Education Investment Fund bid for a Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI).

(3) Does the proposed CAI also have funding as a node in the National Imaging Facility (NIF).

(4) Is there any risk that the recently announced commercial venture between CAI and Axiom Molecular will infringe on competitive neutrality provisions.

(5) Do the contractual arrangements make it clear that competitive neutrality must be respected in any commercial spin-offs.

(6) What particular expertise did the ANSTO Board identify at CAI that warranted the use of ANSTO funds to support the collaboration.

(7) Has UQ previously owned or had access to a cyclotron.

(8) Who are the lead researchers at CAI in charge of the PET [Positron Emission Tomography] tracer discovery and commercialisation program.


 (9) Did the agreement with the Austin Health based Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, regarding joint competitive research, involve funding from ANSTO; if so: (a) when were the funds provided; (b) does the contract provide for a loan or a grant; and (c) are there any competitive neutrality considerations.

(10) Is the intent of the arrangement to supply Copper-64 (Cu-64), Iodine-124 (I-124), Zirconium-89 (Zr-89), and Yttrium-86 (Y-86) for research and clinical development, and what has been supplied to date.

(11) Did collaboration with the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) in Western Australia for cyclotron targetry involve ANSTO funding; if so, how much and under what provisions.

(12) Given that the Minister has noted that the arrangement would involve Cu-64, Zr-89 and radionuclide development research, how many doses have been dispatched for research or clinical use to date.

(13) Is there a reason why SCGH and the Ludwig Institute are both working on Cu-64 and Zr-89, when isotope half-lives allow for distribution throughout Australia.

(14) Is ANSTO aware that: (a) Cyclopharm in Sydney has had the capacity to produce Cu-64 for several years; and (b) the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has been producing Y-86, Cu-64 and I-124 with its research cyclotron.

(15) Were the Cooperative Research Centre for Biomedical Imaging Development (CRC BID) or the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre consulted by the ANSTO Board before the decision to allocate funds to the Ludwig Institute was made.

(16) Why did the ANSTO Board decide not to pursue the proposal for a CRC BID, ANSTO and Cyclotek co-funded project to make Cu-64, I-124, Zr-89, and Y-86 available using commercial hardware supplied through CRC BID partner GE Healthcare, projected to cost less than $350 000 per contributor.

(17) Did any ANSTO Board member with a potential conflict absent themself in discussions concerning the allocation of funds to the Ludwig Institute; if so, was the act recorded in the minutes.