Further clarity and assurance needed for patients who require diagnosis and treatment using radioisotopes

Thursday 13 July 2017

The Royal College of Radiologists is seeking further reassurance from the Government that leaving Euratom will not affect the UK supply of vital diagnostic and cancer-treating materials – radioisotopes. Many of these materials reach us via EU-based nuclear reactors. Anything impacting the supply and transport of radioisotopes has the potential to delay imaging scans and radiotherapy treatment.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the First Secretary of State Rt Hon Damian Green, MP, said Euratom does not license the import and export of medical radioisotopes, or dictate that Euratom members place restrictions on sale to non-Euratom members. 

However, as Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, stated at a Westminster Hall debate just a few hours before Mr Green’s comments, it appears that radioisotopes (and the vehicles and containers used to transport them) do fall under the scope of Euratom*.

Our concern remains that the supply of radioisotopes should not be disrupted when we leave the nuclear common market – whether through higher costs or increased regulation or trade barriers. Any disruption to these quickly-decaying materials reaching patients could delay diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Nicola Strickland, President of the Royal College of Radiologists said:

“As a medical royal college, our primary goal is to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of medical services to patients who need scans and non-surgical cancer treatment. This is why we are calling for further clarity and dialogue on the future supply of radioisotopes.

“The Government has promised a statement on the matter. We hope that will be issued very soon and give the assurance that patients and doctors need.”   

ENDS

Notes to Editors

*
They are listed in List A2 of Annex IV of the treaty as being protected from the imposition of tariffs or quantity restrictions between trading members.
https://europa.eu/european-union/sites/europaeu/files/docs/body/consolidated_version_of_the_treaty_establishing_the_european_atomic_energy_community_en.pdf
(p. 65-66: “Artificial radioactive isotopes and their inorganic or organic compounds”.)