Nuclear Pharmacy Practice Guidelines

Primary tasks listed in the American Pharmacists Association’s Nuclear Pharmacy Practice Guidelines include:

  • Order, receipt, storage and inventory control of radioactive drugs (radiopharmaceuticals), other drugs used in nuclear medicine, and related supplies
  • Preparation of radiopharmaceuticals by combining radioisotopes with reagent kits, and compounding radiopharmaceuticals that are not commercially available
  • Functional checks of instruments, equipment and devices and determination of radiopharmaceutical quality and purity
  • Filling of prescription orders
  • Packaging, labeling and transport of radiopharmaceuticals
  • Proper handling of hazardous chemicals and biological specimens
  • Communicating radiopharmaceutical-related information to others
  • Assuring that patients receive proper preparation before radiopharmaceutical administration and trouble-shooting unanticipated outcomes
  • Laboratory testing of new radiopharmaceuticals, new compounding procedures, quality control methods and participation in clinical trials

Work conditions

Nuclear pharmacists work in a more relaxed environment compared to other areas of pharmacy, such as hospital pharmacy or retail pharmacy. There is usually no interaction with customers because many work in a highly regulated environment where consumers are not allowed.

Although the potential for radiation exposure exists in this field, it is kept to a minimum by the use of syringes, gloves, and other devices specifically designed for radioactive materials. A nuclear pharmacist would use leaded glass shielding, leaded glass syringe shields, and lead containers while working with radioactive material. Hence, proper equipment and procedures reduce the risk of harm to personnel working in a nuclear pharmacy. Tungsten shielding is also used. While more expensive, it provides better shielding, does not break or deform like lead when dropped. It is also not toxic as lead is.