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ANSTO and the National Medical Cyclotron

Scott Ludlam 13 Sep 2012

(Question No. 1875)

Senator Ludlam asked the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, upon notice, on 7 June 2012:

(1) Did the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) cease fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) production through the National Medical Cyclotron in 2003 and reinstitute supply only in 2010 by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in conjunction with PETNET Solutions.

(2) Did this withdrawal of ANSTO from the market coincide with the increased clinical demand for FDG under the PET data collection program of the Department of Health and Aging.

(3) Did private companies supply the FDG market in the absence of ANSTO production.

(4) Did patients miss out on best management of their illness due to limited supplies of FDG.

(5) Did ANSTO seek advice from the Department of Health and Aging on the roll out of Medical Benefits Scheme funding for PET.

(6) Was Professor Andrew Scott on the ANSTO Board when approval for PET was given.

(7) Was Professor Scott closely involved with the Department of Health and Aging with respect to PET funding and data collection initiatives.

(8) Has the failure of ANSTO to understand the FDG market size:

(a) led to overinvestment in the capacity of the PETNET Solutions facility, including the investment of $17.5 million in public funds, despite little prospect of commercial return; and (b) unfairly undermined the business of commercial operators who receive no government funding.

(10) What was the reason for ANSTO increasing its cost base to take on the PETNET Solutions branding.

(11) Given that the PETNET Solutions facility was designed to supply more than FDG, what else has it supplied to date.


Senator Chris Evans: The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) ceased production of fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG at the National Medical Cyclotron (NMC) in 2005. PETNet Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of ANSTO, began producing FDG in August 2009.

(2) Questions regarding the Department of Health and Ageing's PET data collection program should be directed to the Minister for Health.

(3) Yes, together with a hospital-based cyclotron.

(4) This question should be directed to the Minister for Health.

(5) ANSTO based its decision to commence production of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) through PETNET on the same information that would have been available to all commercial suppliers.

(6) No.

(7) This question should be raised with the Department of Health and Ageing..

(8) No.

(10) By 2007, demand for PET scans was growing steadily. Much of the FDG used in NSW was sourced from Melbourne (although one Sydney hospital had its own cyclotron, which at that time only provided for its own needs). Given the short half-life of FDG and increasing demand for this important diagnostic agent, supply from other Australian cities was posing transportation challenges. The ANSTO Board therefore decided to approve the investment to create a subsidiary, PETNet Solutions Australia, for the purpose of producing FDG.

(11) Nothing.

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