Report: I-123 shortages force Australia to charter flights

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on charter flights to import iodine-123 (I-123) radioisotopes for use in cancer treatments, according to an article published on 10 August in the Guardian.

The country's Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) has spent $350,000 Australian (212,000 euros) on the flights due to supply-chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia lost the ability to make its own I-123 some 10 years ago with the closure of a cyclotron in the country.

About a dozen patients in Australia are being treated with I-123 at any one time, according to the Guardian article. The radioisotope's short half-life means it has to be transported quickly from its source of origin to the point of care.

The chartered flights include trips from Japan to Sydney, as well as flights to other Australian cities like Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Melbourne to distribute I-123 to patients. ANSTO is working with clinicians to improve its logistics to ensure nuclear medicine radiopharmaceuticals get to patients quickly, according to the article.

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