The new Gresham Smith-designed, 250,000-square-foot Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals Corp. medical isotope facility in Alachua, Fla., will utilize sustainable design, construction and operational practices. Coquí Pharma is working toward becoming the first U.S. commercial supplier of the lifesaving radioisotope Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which is used in 20 million procedures each year in the U.S.
The design will ensure Coquí Pharma operates on a minimum energy consumption rate with limited carbon dioxide emissions by mitigating solar exposure and enhancing the control of daylight throughout the building. Water efficiency also played a pivotal role in the design process, with the most effective use of water inside the facility as well as for the lush, tropical landscaping to be employed. The positioning of the structure on Coquí Pharma’s 25 acres – gifted by the University of Florida Foundation – took into consideration two Heritage Oak trees that will essentially bookend the state-of-the-art facility.
Medical isotopes are used in a variety of medical tests, including cancer screening. The most widely used medical isotope in the world is Technicium-99m (Tc-99m), which is derived from (Mo-99). Because of a very short lifespan, the isotope needs to be used in patients quickly after it is created. A major challenge for the industry is that the isotope is not produced in the U.S., and when a production facility in Canada is closed in 2018, there will be no producer from which to purchase Tc-99m in the Western Hemisphere. Existing international production sources tend to be older and often unreliable, potentially delaying life-saving diagnostics.