The Cabinet of Ministers has granted the approval to setup a cyclotron-based radiopharmaceuticals production center to manufacture radioactive dye Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) that is used in positron emission tomography (PET) and computerised tomography (CT) scans conduced to diagnose cancers patients.
On Monday, Power Minister Dullas Alahapperuma sought the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers to establish the production center at Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) Hospital premises in collaboration with the country’s Atomic Energy Board (AEB).
A MOU had already been signed between KDU, AEB and Medical Supplies Division of the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition early this year to establish the facility.
According to the Government Information Department,
the country faces significant capacity constraints in conducting PET and CT scans for cancer patients with 97 percent capacity of the drug is being lost when imported from India due to radioactive decay.
“Although there is a need to test about 30,000 patients annually, due to this, only 1600 patients can be tested,” it noted. Further, the country will also be able to bring down the cost per test from Rs.54, 000 to Rs.14,000 if the drug is manufactured locally, in addition to retaining foreign exchange outflows. The move is also expected to lead both State and private sector hospitals to establish more PET scanners, which would help cancer patients to avoid long waiting lists and paying exorbitant prices.
Sri Lanka is expected to receive cooperation from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the project.
In 2017, former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to Austria and the United Nations in Vienna, Priyanee Wijesekera sought IAEA’s support through its technical cooperation programme in order to establish this facility in the country.
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