Effective from 1 June 2014 and following approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), GE Healthcare has announced the intent to supply generators for the production of sodium pertechnetate; technetium (Tc99m) injection to its radiopharmacies in the US.

Globally more than 70% of all diagnostic SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) procedures using gamma cameras rely on the use of Tc99m as the radioactive component. It is commonly used as an imaging agent and in preparation of FDA-approved diagnostic radiopharmaceutical kits to help diagnose many different types of diseases including those in cardiology, oncology, and neurology.

GE Healthcare Core Imaging general manager Jan Makela said that radioactive tracers are difficult to manufacture because of their short half-life. By supplying our generators, GE Healthcare has better control over its supply chain.

"It could also help to increase the availability of Tc99m for our customers in the longer term. Currently we supply Tc99m generators (branded Drytecâ„¢ outside the US) to many countries around the world and the inclusion of the US is a big step to increasing our leadership in this market. It represents a significant growth opportunity for our SPECT business," Makela added.

Technetium-99m, when used as a radioactive tracer, can be detected in the body by medical equipment such as gamma cameras. The short physical half-life, or time it remains radioactive, of the isotope and its biological half-life of one day (in terms of human activity and metabolism) allows for scanning procedures which collect data rapidly but keep total patient radiation exposure low.