Business

MDS Nordion says isotope shortage will hit bottom line

The extended shutdown of an Ontario nuclear reactor crucial to nuclear medicine will likely mean a bigger hit to the profits at MDS Nordion than initially expected.

The extended shutdown of an Ontario nuclear reactor crucial to nuclear medicine will likely mean a bigger hit to the profits at MDS Nordion than initially expected.

The Ottawa-based company said Wednesday that the shutdown is expected to reduce its operating profits by between $8 million US and $9 million US in the first quarter of 2008.

Last week, MDS Nordion said the supply crunch for radioisotopes would cause a $4-million US hit to its profits.

"As the global leader in the supply of medical isotopes, MDS Nordion is working closely with its backup supply network to mitigate the impact," the company said Wednesday.

The government-run reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.'s Chalk River Laboratories supplies more than two-thirds of the world's demand for medical radioisotopes, which are used to diagnose cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Once injected into patients, the radioisotopes allow nuclear imaging equipment to produce detailed scans of the body.

But the Chalk River reactor was closed for scheduled repairs on Nov. 18, causing a cross-country shortage of radioisotopes. During the maintenance check, regulators found more problems to repair than expected.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which owns the reactor, said it won't be operating at full capacity for another 10 days.

MDS Nordion is a subsidiary of MDS Inc. Shares of MDS finished down 26 cents at $19.99 on the TSX.

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