GE Healthcare’s Pharmaceutical Diagnostics business has announced a long-term agreement with Chile-based mining company, Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), to secure its supply of iodine, a key ingredient for contrast media products used in X-Ray and computed tomography (CT) procedures globally. 

The agreement will see SQM increase supply of iodine raw material year-on-year and is part of GE Healthcare’s broader commitment and investment plan to enable the production of 30 million more patient doses of iodinated contrast media annually by 2025.

Growth in CT Procedures

The growing global prevalence of chronic disorders has driven significant growth in CT procedures, leading to increased global demand for iodinated contrast media, used to enhance visualization of organs, blood vessels and tissues across clinical care pathways. 

GE Healthcare is also investing in production capacity to help meet this growing demand, including a new $30 million manufacturing line at its Cork, Ireland, contrast media production facility, which opens this week.

“We expect global demand for iodinated contrast media to double in the next 10 years,” says Kevin O’Neill, president and CEO, GE Healthcare Pharmaceutical Diagnostics. “As an industry leader, we understand our responsibility to help meet this growing demand from customers and patients by investing in production capacity and securing higher volumes of iodine raw material.  As one of the largest consumers of iodine globally we value our longstanding relationship with SQM, an important partner for us.”

GE Healthcare Pharmaceutical Diagnostics develops and manufactures imaging agents used to support over 100 million procedures per year, equivalent to three patient procedures every second.

All stages of its contrast media manufacturing, from development of API to finished product, are managed entirely by GE Healthcare, adhering to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). With over 4,000 employees globally and seven manufacturing sites, the business also develops and supplies radiopharmaceuticals used to support diagnosis, monitoring and treatment selection across Neurology, Cardiology and Oncology clinical pathways.

“We’re pleased to continue our relationship with GE Healthcare–a key customer for us for more than 40 years,” says Pablo Altimiras, executive VP of Iodine and Nitrates, SQM. “As one of the largest producers of iodine worldwide with approximately 24 percent of our production used for X-ray contrast media, we are committed to the iodine industry and will continue to improve quality and increase capacity to ensure the reliability of supply, which is essential to so many sectors, including healthcare.”