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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 294

Mr Hayden asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and Energy, upon notice, on 14 November 1979:

(   1 ) Does the Australian Atomic Energy Commission normally supply radiopharmaceuticals based on technetium-99m on a daily basis to users in Australia.

(2)   Is the technetium-99m produced by using the Commission 's reactor HIFAR.

(3)   Are ready-to-inject radiopharmaceuticals based on technetium-99m normally prepared daily; if so. what arrangements are made by users of technetium-99m based radiopharmaceuticals during both regular short shut-downs and extended shut-downs of HIFAR.

(4)   How frequent are regular short shut-downs of HIFAR, and on which occasions has the reactor been shut-down for extended periods.

(5)   What is the price per unit of (a) technetium-99m solutions, (b) molybdenum-99 solutions and (c) technetium-99m generators supplied by the Commission.

(6)   What is the price per unit of equivalent radiopharmaceuticals supplied from alternative sources.

(7)   Are arrangements for the supply of technetium-99m based radiopharmaceuticals during shut-downs of HIFAR regarded as satisfactory by the Commission and by its customers.

Mr Anthony -The Minister for National Development and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   The technetium-99m is produced from molybdenum-99, which is produced in HIFAR.

(3)   Yes. Production schedules for molybdenum-99, the parent nuclide for technetium-99m, are designed to produce extra stocks to accommodate regular short shut-downs. Prior to extended shutdowns orders are placed with overseas suppliers for regular weekly and bi-weekly shipments of molybdenum-99.

(4)   Regular shutdowns occur every 4 weeks and last for four to five days. Extended shutdowns of HIFAR for planned maintenance have occurred at the following times: September 1960, April 1962, October 1963, May 1966, April 1970, May 1973, May 1975 and September 1979.

(5)   (a) Technetium-99m solutions: The Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) supplies technetium-99m in many 'ready-to-inject' forms, with all necessary radiopharmaceutical preparation and quality control performed by the AAEC-

(6)   The following prices are estimates as imports are low and prices vary considerably depending on freight rates, recalibration allowance and probable discount for longterm contracts.

(a)   Technetium-99m solutions: Prices from alternative sources should not be compared directly with AAEC prices, as the products are supplied in different forms. In estimating prices from alternative sources, an allowance has been included to cover the costs of establishing an inhouse pharmacy for 'milking' of generators, radiopharmaceutical preparation and quality control. Since this cost would depend on the size of the hospital and patient load, a range of prices is given-


(b)   Molybdenum-99 solution: The price including freight for bulk purchases by the AAEC during HIFAR shut down varies from $1.00 to $1.40 per GBq, depending on quality and origin of material.

(c)   Technetium-99m generators: Generators available from overseas are not directly comparable in respect of model or activities supplied and would incur a high freight charge. Other than a few of very high activity not available from AAEC, none is imported. Prices would vary depending on contract and supplier, but are believed to be worth $100 to $ 1 30 more than the AAEC prices.

(7)   The arrangement whereby AAEC acts as bulk importer and assumes responsibility for supply as usual for technetium-99m, iodine-131 and most other radiopharmaceuticals is appreciated by the customers. It is not satisfactory to the Commission because the freight costs are high (18-30% of total costs), and despite extra material being bought to allow for delay in delivery, delays of more than 24 hours in supply of molybdenum-99m from overseas mean reductions in quantity supplied to customers and this has occurred on several occasions. Some short-lived nuclides usually supplied by the AAEC are not available (see answer to House of Representatives Question 5085 ).

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