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ORT: Pharmaceutical company could invest $500M in Oak Ridge facility

As first reported by our partners at Oak Ridge Today, Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals Corporation has announced that it could invest $500 million at a new medical isotope production facility at the Heritage Center in west Oak Ridge.

The facility could start production in late 2025, said Carmen Bigles, founder and chief executive officer of Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals.

The U.S. Department of Energy has transferred land for the facility and provided research support through the national laboratories, the company said in a press release Wednesday morning.

Coquí’s facility will produce medical isotopes that diagnose and treat diseases, primarily molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which is used in 18 million medical procedures a year in the U.S., the press release said.

The facility will provide more than 200 high-paying, permanent jobs, Coquí said.

(Coqui press release) Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals Corp. is closer to realizing its goal of building a dedicated Medical Isotope Production Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) transferred land for the facility and provided research support through the national laboratories. Coquí’s facility will produce medical isotopes that diagnose and treat diseases, primarily Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which is used in 18 million medical procedures a year in the U.S. The DOE land transfer to Coquí of 206 acres in the Heritage Center Industrial Park places the company in a strategic location adjacent to federal research assets, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Once fully operational, the facility will be the first of its kind in the U.S., which currently relies on imports to meet its Mo-99 needs. The most widely used medical isotope in the world, Mo-99 is relied on to diagnose and treat diseases including brain, heart, lung, liver, renal, oncologic, and muscle skeletal diseases.

Coquí is best positioned to meet the demand for lifesaving medical isotopes because our technology is commercially proven and is used in the current supply chain,” said Carmen I. Bigles, founder and CEO of Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals Corp. Design of Coquí’s facility is being led by INVAP, the world’s leading designer and developer of medical isotope production facilities. Coquí has an exclusive license with INVAP to use its technology in the United States.

Global supplies of Mo-99 are becoming increasingly unreliable as facilities capable of producing the isotope age and shut down. Mo-99 shortages,such as the one that occurred in November 2018, deprive patients from receiving lifesaving diagnostics and treatment. The U.S. currently has no domestic production source. The Coquí facility is expected to be fully operational in 2025 and will provide more than 200 high paying, permanent jobs.

This land acquisition provides many advantages. Oak Ridge is home to several DOE and TVA nuclear facilities, providing a strong nuclear and engineering workforce. By growing our company in Oak Ridge we can leverage world-class research assets like Oak Ridge National Lab and the Y-12 National Security Complex,” added Bigles.

DOE has provided further support for the Coquí facility through research funding. These funds support Coquí’s partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the nearby Y-12 National Security Complex to conduct further research on Mo-99 target plate fabrication and qualification.

Coquí’s decision to locate its production facility in Oak Ridge makes its collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12National Security Complexeasier and more efficient.

This research partnership is critical and supports our efforts to obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Food and Drug Administration approvals for the facility. The sooner we can begin producing U.S.-made Mo-99, the sooner we can minimize our dependency on foreign imports to meet critical U.S. medical needs,” said Bigles.

About Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals Corp.
Coquí Pharma was founded in September 2009 with a mission to create a commercially scalable and reliable supply of Molybdenum-99, which is used in more than 18 million medical procedures to treat and diagnose disease each year in the U.S. For more information visit http://coquipharma.com/

For more on this story, visit our partners at Oak Ridge Today.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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