It is widely recognized that early diagnosis of most types of cancers can increase the chances of full recovery or substantially prolong the life of patients. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) has become the standard way to diagnose many types of cancers by generating high quality images of the affected organs. In order to create an accurate image a small amount of a radio-active agent needs to be injected in the patient's body. These agents are produced in specially equipped pharmacies and then distributed to medical imaging centers which are located in metropolitan and rural areas. Due to the relatively fast decay process of the radio-activity levels it is very important that they arrive at the imaging centers well before the time that the patient enters the room where PET scanner is located. In this paper we discuss the distribution process of radio-pharmaceuticals and develop a flexible and efficient mathematical model. Our objective is to serve a number of customers within a pre-specified time interval at minimum transportation cost. At the same time the model ensures that all orders arrive at the imaging centers well before the patients enter the PET scanners. In addition the model takes into consideration the availability and capacity of the transportation vehicles. To demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our optimization model we present preliminary computational results in a variety of test cases which show that it can achieve substantial savings in transportation costs.
In Proceedings of the 7th Multidisciplinary International Conference on Scheduling: Theory and Applications (MISTA), August 25-28, 2015, Prague, Czech Republic.