Press release

Lifesaving nuclear medicine applications deserve better recognition and support at EU level

Jun 14, 2021

Brussels, 14 June 2021: Thanks to medical applications of nuclear technology, Europe’s citizens have access to diagnostic and lifesaving treatment. That is why the European Union – in line with its Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan – should promote new research reactor capacity along with innovation in the sector and the design modification of the current fleet. According to a joint position paper issued today by FORATOM and Nuclear Medicine Europe, these and other recommendations should be implemented to maintain the current level of medical radioisotopes supply.

Nuclear technology plays a significant role in the medical sector. Medical applications, which include production of radioisotopes and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, help save thousands of lives each day. Every year, more than 9 million patients in Europe benefit from nuclear medicine in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular or neurological disorders.

“Nuclear technology offers many different important applications apart from providing low-carbon electricity at an affordable cost. Nuclear medicine is one of them as it enables access to diagnostic and lifesaving treatments technologies”, says Yves Desbazeille, FORATOM Director General. “Although the EU is involved in the nuclear medicine sector and its developments, more has to be done to address the current challenges in order to maintain the edge that the EU enjoys today in this field globally”.

The position paper explains the technicalities of nuclear medicine, presents the scope of the current nuclear medicine sector in the European Union as well as highlights the challenges that have to be overcome both at regulatory and supply chain levels.

“The European nuclear medicine sector – like the wider nuclear industry – faces several challenges, from negative attitudes towards nuclear energy/radiation, uncertainty over funding in new nuclear energy capacity and management of nuclear waste. It has, however, also its own challenges, such as a regulatory system that needs improvement, sustainable reimbursement models and equal access to modern equipment and applications across all member states”, says Antonis Kalemis, President of Nuclear Medicine Europe. “We recommend that nuclear technology and its non-power applications should be better recognised and supported at EU level. We also call for an EU roadmap dedicated to nuclear medicine research and development”.

The position paper presents a list of recommendations which have to be addressed at EU level in order to ensure that the supply of medical isotopes produced using nuclear technology will be continued and, by doing so, will keep contributing to saving lives of Europeans.

In order to maintain and further enhance supply chain investment needs, the EU should:

  • promote new research reactor capacity along with innovation,
  • reconsider reimbursement systems and levels for radiopharmaceutical products,
  • develop a robust supply chain which goes beyond irradiation,
  • reconsider and adapt clinical R&D of new radiopharmaceutical compounds.

On the required regulatory framework, the EU should: better recognise and support the role of nuclear technology and its non-power applications:

  • quickly implement actions identified in the SAMIRA Action plan,
  • support the implementation and use of Low Enriched Uranium,
  • aim at homogenizing, at Member States level, market access, regulatory framework for the development of new medicines and reimbursement models for nuclear medicine applications,
  • renovate the nuclear medicine equipment especially in EU periphery countries,
  • secure a level-playing field for the development of low-carbon technologies.

Download the position paper and the annex.

For more information, please contact Witold Strzelecki: witold.strzelecki@foratom.org.

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