As a result of the September 11 terrorist acts in New York and Washington DC, air transportation in the United States was put on hold for several days, which severely affected the production and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals.
Most radiopharmaceuticals are shipped via air due to their specific nature. These products are either radioactive themselves or they are pharmaceuticals with a radioactive component, and are used in diagnosis or therapy based on the specific designs of these products. As these products or their radioactive component decay, they become less valuable over time.
Because these products decay from the instant they are produced, air shipments are paramount for timely delivery to ensure proper processing. Once processed, the nuclear medicine industry relies heavily on air shipments to get these quality products into the hands of the specialty clinicians, mostly through nuclear pharmacies, so that appropriate medical care involving radiopharmaceuticals can be provided.
Mallinckrodt, a leading maker and supplier of radiopharmaceuticals, spent a large number of man-hours getting products in from outside the United States for processing, and even more time in arranging special line-haul trucks to carry finished products by ground to sites throughout the United States to maintain an adequate supplies. In addition, the company tried to ensure that the New York area could continue to get radiopharmaceuticals so that all possible treatment options would be open to the victims of the attacks.