A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group (B&W; Lynchburg, Virginia) reported that it has signed an agreement with Covidien (Mansfield, Massachusetts) to develop technology for the manufacture of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used radioisotope in the world for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine procedures.

The program has the potential to supply more than 50% of U.S. demand for Mo-99.

Under the agreement, B&W and the Mallinckrodt (Hazelwood, Missouri) subsidiary of Covidien will collaborate on the development of solution-based reactor technology for medical isotope production.

The agreement combines Covidien's expertise in radiopharmaceutical production and global regulatory approvals with B&W's patented liquid phase nuclear technology. This reactor technology uses low enriched uranium (LEU) and generates only about 1% of the radioactive waste compared to spent fuel and processing wastes generated by current reactor production of Mo-99, most of which uses highly enriched uranium (HEU).

This collaboration is an initial step toward establishing a large-scale U.S. supply of medical isotopes. Currently, the U.S. imports 100% of its Mo-99 supply, which is manufactured at a handful of aging nuclear reactors. Unplanned shutdowns of these reactors for maintenance needs or safety-related issues have led to periodic shortages of medical isotopes.

Because Mo-99 has a half-life of only 66 hours, shortages have an almost immediate impact on the ability of physicians to perform critical patient procedures. Besides providing a reliable, domestic supply of the medical isotope, the program will support the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's nonproliferation efforts.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Instrumentation Laboratory (IL; Lexington, Massachusetts) said that MedAssets Supply Chain Systems (Alpharetta, Georgia) has extended its contract to offer IL's critical care portfolio through July 2010.

This continues a contract first established in 2002. It covers IL's portfolio of critical-care analyzers, reagents, consumables and service, including IL's flagship product, the GEM Premier 4000 analyzer for blood gas, electrolyte and metabolite and integrated CO-Oximetry testing.

• Emageon (Birmingham, Alabama) reported that it has been awarded a five-year HeartSuite VERICIS cardiology contract with MultiCare Health System (Tacoma, Washington), an integrated health organization made up of four hospitals in the Greater Tacoma area. This follows MultiCare's unveiling of the new Tacoma General Heart Hospital on Nov. 15.

The agreement comes after an extensive RFP process which evaluated major as well as several smaller and newer cardiology information and imaging solutions. Emageon was awarded the final contract to supply its VERICIS digital PACS and HeartSuite hemodynamics solution for four cath labs, including one in which Emageon's Pediatric Echo IMS product will be installed.

The HeartSuite VERICIS solution will enable MultiCare to now digitally process its cardiology PACS studies and cath/echo structured reporting for echocardiography.