GE Healthcare manufactures contrast agents for use in radiological imaging to identify injuries and diseases. Globally, approximately three patients every second are imaged using a contrast media or molecular imaging agent provided or produced by GE Healthcare.¹
Contrast agents are injected into the body prior to an imaging procedure to increase the contrast on a scan image to clearly show different types of tissues and organs in the body. A clearer scan image helps radiologists to more easily identify injuries and disease areas, diagnoses which can inform treatment plans. Global demand for imaging agents has been increasing by approximately 5 per cent each year, because of an ageing global population and increasing access to healthcare.
As with most manufacturing processes, making contrast agents produces by-products. Disposing of by-products responsibly to minimise the impact on people and the environment is a priority for government and industry alike.
To meet growing demand for contrast agents and improve the disposal of by-products, GE Healthcare is focusing on reducing waste and raw material consumption by improving manufacturing capacity and driving productivity. Over the last five years, automation technology has doubled production capacity at the Lindesnes plant. This production is the first stage of making a contrast agent which is then sent to another GE Healthcare site to be finished and bottled before being delivered to hospitals and clinics.
As well as increasing capacity, GE Healthcare’s team are installing and implementing technologies which will transform by-products into new commercial products. Moreover, the company has implemented a programme to enable hospitals and clinics to return unused products for reprocessing and reuse. By expanding this program, GE Healthcare is aiming at capturing a larger proportion of the life cycle of the contrast agent products thus increasing sustainability and reducing pressure on raw material consumption.
The global market for contrast media/contrast agents was valued at approximately USD 5 billion in 2017. ² GE Healthcare’s Contrast Media business has manufacturing facilities in Norway, Ireland and China, and distributes its contrast agent products to more than 130 countries serving more than 90 million patients annually.