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July 21, 2011

New radio-pharmacy streamlines access to medical procedures

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University is partnering with Cardinal Health to open a radio-pharmacy on campus, a move that streamlines access to nuclear imaging agents created at an MSU cyclotron and used in medical procedures such as PET scans.

Timely access is crucial: The imaging agents created at MSU's medical cyclotron and dispensed at a radio-pharmacy decay very quickly and lose potency, meaning patient-specific doses must get to hospitals and clinics quickly, said Tom Cooper, interim chairperson of MSU's Department of Radiology.

"The procedures that rely on these agents are often very time-sensitive," Cooper said. "By partnering with Cardinal Health, we will be able to ensure patients at hospitals and clinics across Michigan and the region have ready access to potentially life-saving care."

MSU's medical cyclotron has been operating for seven years and enables clinicians at the MSU HealthTeam to provide on-site PET scans, Cooper said, a boon for patients needing advanced medical care. In addition to on-site use, the imaging agents created at the cyclotron also were shipped to pharmacies in the Flint or Grand Rapid regions for distribution.

Now, Cardinal Health - a Dublin, Ohio-based health care services company - will run the new MSU radio-pharmacy, creating and distributing the agents directly to hospitals and imaging centers throughout the state and region. That direct distribution means improved access for patients.

"We're pleased to partner with Michigan State University to make advanced imaging agents more accessible to local physicians," said John Rademacher, president of Cardinal Health's Nuclear Pharmacy Services business. "The imaging agents we'll compound and dispense at this facility can ultimately improve patient outcomes by helping physicians diagnose complex diseases earlier in their onset and by helping physicians assess treatment plans."

At MSU's cyclotron, scientists create several different nuclear isotopes that are used in imaging agents for procedures such as positron emission tomography scans, or PET scans. Once the agents are introduced into the body, the scan detects them, producing a 3-D image of functional processes in the body. PET scans can be used to detect serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders.

Cardinal Health operates the largest network of radio pharmacies in the United States and is one of the nation's largest employers of nuclear pharmacists. In addition to compounding and dispensing nuclear imaging agents, the company works with pharmaceutical companies and academic research institutions to accelerate the development and commercialization of new imaging agents.


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.