MURR Working to Stabilize Supply of Cancer Drugs

Due to unexpected interruptions at international reactors, MURR® will change maintenance schedule to maintain drug supply for the nation

Nov. 18, 2013

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi,, 573-882-4430

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Each day, thousands of cancer patients rely on a routine supply of radiopharmaceuticals, which are drugs that have a shelf-life ranging from several days to mere minutes, depending on the isotopes used in the drugs. With the international radioisotope supply chain currently experiencing disruption, the MU Research Reactor (MURR) is taking action to mitigate the impact on the medical community.

“Responding to patient needs and industry requests, we are rescheduling our planned two-week maintenance project from December 2013 to January 2014,” said Ralph Butler, director of MURR. “We’ve had this routine maintenance project scheduled for many months, but we’re able to change the schedule to avert a shortage of medical isotopes.”

In addition to its weekly half-day maintenance program, MURR staff perform a two-week maintenance project every eight years to maintain MURR’s reliable 6½-days-per-week operating schedule.

Uninterrupted supply of short-lived medical isotopes is vital for patients to receive their necessary treatments on time. Some of the international reactors that are part of the routine supply chain are currently experiencing unplanned shutdowns. MURR’s schedule adjustment to January 2014 ensures the supply of some key medical isotopes and affords the international reactors greater time to return to full operation.

“We take our role of meeting patient needs very seriously,” Butler said.  “We are fortunate in Missouri to have such a well-designed reactor and an outstanding staff enabling us to accommodate this important need in the medical community.”

MURR has a long history of safe reliability, with a 52-week-per-year schedule that supports research and education while also providing short-lived isotopes for medical applications.