Photo | DOST?s new Radioisotope Lab to lower local healthcare cost

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Photo credit: Smarter Philippines program director Alejandro Melchor III
Photo credit: Smarter Philippines program director Alejandro Melchor III

The new Radioisotope Laboratory of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has started its operations at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) complex in Diliman, Quezon City.

The facility is expected to significantly lower local healthcare costs, provide S&T support to the local healthcare industry, and attract investments into our healthcare sector.

The lab produces Technetium-99m (Tc-99m), silver-gray radioactive metal that is used for medical and research purposes, including evaluation of the medical condition of the heart and other organs, and studying blood flow.

The laboratory, which houses the generator plant for the isotope, is the first Tc-99m production facility in the Philippines. PNRI director Alumanda de la Rosa said that producing Tc-99m locally will cut at least 50 percent of hospital procedures.

Over 35 hospitals around the country with nuclear medicine centers have to import Tc-99m generators, thus making medical procedures too costly for the public. A typical imported generator costs $1,000?higher than its cost in Indonesia which is $388.

However, the local production of Tc-99m will make diagnostic tests more affordable and accessible to a wider segment of the population.

The facility was completed with assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that the laboratory complies with good manufacturing practices and radiological safety requirements.

The facility also aims to localize the production of radiopharmaceutical products and make them available to government hospitals, particularly for charity patients, at a subsidized cost.

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