Radioactive drugs or radiopharmaceuticals are essential components of nuclear medicine tests and are administered to humans for the diagnosis or treatment of a disease. They localize in the specific tissues targeted and emit radiation which is detected by imaging cameras to give a picture of their distribution showing the presence or absence of disease. These radioactive drugs are available from commercial nuclear pharmacies or can be prepared in hospital-based nuclear pharmacies. The Cleveland Clinic has its own nuclear pharmacy in the Department of Nuclear Medicine, which offers a wide range of radiopharmaceuticals for the detection and treatment of various diseases. Cleveland Clinic nuclear pharmacy has been highly rated and certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO) and Ohio Department of Health (ODH).


  • CCF nuclear pharmacy is well-equipped with sophisticated equipment, including a fume hood for handling volatile material, two laminar flow hoods to prepare sterile radiopharmaceuticals, a biohazard hood to handle biological products, a well counter to count radioactivity, and a multichannel analyzer to identify radionuclides.
  • An onsite cyclotron is available to produce many short-lived radiopharmaceuticals for positron emission tomography (PET), which is considered the state-of-the-art technology for cancer detection, measuring blood flow and metabolism in the heart, and detecting the brain focus causing epilepsy. Short-lived radionuclides are highly desirable for nuclear medicine studies because they give low radiation to the patient and repeat studies can be performed within a short period of time, if necessary.

Staff & Training

CCF nuclear pharmacy has two Ph.D radiochemists, a B.S. radiochemist and a pharmacy technician. When a physician orders a study for a patient, both routine and research radiopharmaceuticals can be individually prepared and appropriate quality control performed by our in-house staff.

We teach cardiology fellows, radiology residents and nuclear medicine technology students who rotate through our nuclear pharmacy for to meet for training and board certification requirements in their specialty areas.

Types of Radioactive Drugs

Common radioactive drugs for nuclear medicine diagnostic tests:

  • F-18 FDG for detecting various cancers and heart metabolism
  • Tc-99m tetrofosmin (Myoview) for measuring blood flow to the heart
  • Tc-99m MDP for detecting the spread of cancer to bones
  • Tc-99m MAA for measuring lung perfusion
  • I-123 NaI for detecting thyroid diseases

Radioactive drugs for therapy:

  • I-131 NaI for hyperthyroid and thyroid cancer
  • I-131 Bexxar and Y-90 Zevalin for non-Hodgkins lymphoma
  • Sm-153 Quadramet for bone pain relief

<!-- -->

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy