Wednesday, October 21, 2015

News: Medical merger could lead to reopening of Rotherham facility

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Alliance Medical, Europe's leading independent provider of medical imaging services, could restart production at its Rotherham facility.

IBA (Ion Beam Applications), the Belgian particle therapy and oncology systems specialist operated a facility on the former colliery site at Dinnington to produce PET (Positron Emission Tomography) radiopharmaceuticals - a radioactive tracer for cancer diagnosis. Opened in 2007, it was mothballed in 2010 after the company lost a significant contract.

Alliance acquired the assets of the UK Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) business of IBA Molecular UK Ltd in 2014 after the takeover was cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Alliance and IBA Molecular UK Limited both supplied Fluorodeoxyglucose 18F (FDG-18), a radioactive tracer used in PET-CT scans which is purchased by hospitals and others who provide such scans. Due to its short radioactive half-life, an effective dose can only be given to a patient within a maximum of eight hours following production, which limits the area which can be served by a particular production unit.

IBA had decided to mothball its Dinnington plant because of the loss of a significant contract in Glasgow and the lack of other business development opportunities. Alliance Medical had won NHS scanning contracts in the North and had its own FDG supply from Erigal, the company who secured the Glasgow contract and which was later acquired by Alliance. The Dinnington site therefore could not access much of the potential business in the North of England.

The firm brought together the acquired businesses as Alliance Medical Radiopharmacy with locations in Keele, Preston, Sutton and Guilford. Having won significant further contracts, the group has submitted a planning application that would enable production to restart in Dinnington.

The plans, drawn up by consultants at the PM Group, state: "Alliance Medical have secured new contracts within the UK which require additional manufacturing capacity. The contracts have been secured against tight deadlines and the new proposed development and remodeling of the existing building at Dinnington was selected as the only realistic way forward.

"By identifying the footprint required for the new cyclotron equipment line, the option was to provide a new two storey extension to accommodate the new single line cyclotron at ground level and new plant and equipment room at first floor level."

The cyclotron is a compact particle accelerator used to produce quantities of radioactive isotopes. The proposals would take the site from 13,500 sq ft to over 16,000 sq ft. Reactivating the site also means bringing it up to date with high standards, known as cGMP, and regulations from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The plans state that 20 employees are proposed for the Rotherham facility, working shifts to cover the 24/6 operation.

In January 2015, NHS England selected a collaborative network led by Alliance Medical to provide PET-CT scanning services across 30 locations in England, including Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. Following a competitive tender process, Alliance Medical said it would invest over £80m to improve the PET-CT imaging infrastructure and improve patient access through site expansion.

Alliance Medical website

Images: Alliance Medical

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