Congress passed the American Medical Isotope Production Act of 2011 (S.99), which guarantees a steady domestic supply of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), an isotope that is used in more than 16.7 million imaging procedures in the US each year. There are no domestic facilities dedicated to the production of this isotope, and the US currently imports Mo-99 from eight FDA-approved foreign suppliers. The bill establishes support for domestic production, decrease reliance on foreign supply, and will also phase out the export of highly enriched uranium for the production of medical isotopes over a period of seven years.
Mo-99 is an isotope that decays to Technetium-99m (Tc-99m), which is used in the detection of heart and thyroid disease, cancer, study of brain and kidney function, and imaging of stress fractures. In 2009-2010, the US experienced shortages of Mo-99, disrupting nuclear medicine procedures for an estimated 50,000 patients each day.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), was passed out of the Senate by Unanimous Consent and referred to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. S. 99 was included in the Conference Agreement for the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013, and the president is expected to sign the final legislation.