New supplier found for scarce medical isotope.

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New supplier found for scarce medical isotope.

In a move probable to aid more than one million patients worldwide, a company with operations in St. Louis told that it has reached an agreement with the operators of a Polish nuclear reactor to create a critical and limited medical isotope.

Officials with Covidien, a global health care products company with headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, said “the agreement with Institute of Atomic Energy in Poland will help the company meet the needs of medical facilities around the world that use technetium 99m to diagnose heart disease and detect cancer”.

For years, those facilities have been learning to cope with shortages of molybdenum 99, a radioactive isotope that decays into technetium 99m, as a result of problems with the aging nuclear reactors used for production.

Covidien, which has its pharmaceuticals division based in St. Louis, makes the lead-lined generators that separate technetium 99m from molybdenum 99.