AdvaMed is asking the White House to delay the sale of the Federal Helium Reserve to preserve a critical helium supplier to medical equipment manufacturers.
Scott Whitaker, president and CEO of AdvaMed, the Medtech Association, urged the Biden Administration to delay the sale and privatization of the Federal Helium Reserve until concerns about resulting supply chain disruptions are resolved.
Helium is a critical element of certain medical technologies and is used to cool the magnet in MRI machines. According to AdvaMed, helium is only produced in a few countries globally and the Federal Helium Reserve is a key supplier of helium in the U.S.
“Helium is critical to the function and operation of key medical technologies patients rely on for their care,” said Whitaker. “For example, it’s used to cool the magnet in magnetic resonance imaging machines. American patients receive an estimated 40 million MRI scans each year to help diagnose strokes, tumors, brain injury, spinal cord injury, and heart problems.”
Another possible barrier to helium supplies for medical equipment manufacturers is instability in Ukraine and the Middle East. Particularly, the difficulty with shipping through the Red Sea and Suez canal, which is a major global trade route, makes a local supplier more critical for U.S. companies.
“While innovations to use less helium in medtech are under way, MRI machines are made to last for years as an investment and aren’t easily replaced,” said Whitaker. “AdvaMed urges the White House to delay the sale and privatization of the Federal Helium Reserve until outstanding issues identified by the Compressed Gas Association are resolved. Timely, critical patient care would suffer if helium supplies constricted further.”