The cost of several expensive medical diagnostic tests will be cut by at least half when government nuclear scientists start the local production of the most commonly used medical radioactive isotope next year.
The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) on Monday unveiled its state of the art Molybdenum99/Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) generator production facility as it observed the 40th Atomic Energy Week.
The first of its kind in the country, the P70-million Tc-99m production facility was cofunded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“The facility will make nuclear procedures using Technetium-99m more affordable to the public,” Science Secretary Mario Montejo said at the softlaunch of the facility in the PNRI premises in Quezon City.
PNRI Director Alumanda de la Rosa said the agency’s target was to have patients pay at least 50 percent less for hospital procedures using the medical radioisotope Technetium-99m.
De la Rosa said that by February next year, they would be able to provide for all the Tc-99m-based radiopharmaceutical needs of hospitals at a cost lower than the current prohibitive cost of the imported radiopharmaceuticals.
She said they would also make radiopharmaceuticals available to government hospitals, especially charity patients, at a subsized cost.
The country’s 35 hospitals with nuclear medicine centers have to import Tc-99m generators from overseas, making medical procedures too costly for the public.
The PNRI said the cost of an imported 99mTc generator here was higher than in neighboring countries.
The current local market price of an 18.5 GBq 99mTc generator is about $1000, $388 in Indonesia and $4,070 in Japan.
Technetium-99m is the most commonly used medical radioisotope for imaging and scanning of various internal organs such as the brain, lungs, kidneys, liver and thyroid as well as bone for diagnostic purposes.
The radioisotope is used in over 80 percent of diagnostic imaging procedures of nuclear medicine worldwide, according to the PNRI.
Among the medical procedures where Tc-99m is used are: Lung Scintigraphy Tc-99m Pertechnetate for Meckel’s scan; Tc-99m Labelled RBC’s for Gastro-intestinal Bleeding, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastric Emptying Time (GET); Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis; Liver scan; Liver SPECT scan; Hepatobiliary; Renal Scintigraphy; DMSA Renal scan; DTPA Renal scan with In-Vitro Test; Diuretic Renal scan with In-Vitro Test; Captopril Pre and Post DTPA; Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) with in-Vitro test; Renal scan MAG 3; Renal SPECT scan; and Bone Scintigraphy.