Heparin Death Count Triples

The FDA has tripled the deaths attributed to contaminated heparin since January 2007. The agency was quick to point out that these are not new deaths but the increase is attributable to expanded anlayis of the heparin recall data as well as new reports linking deaths to the bad heparin.
Heparin, manufactured from pig intestines, is widely used as a blood thinning drug and has been the subject of recalls in the United States as well as Europe.
Yesterday, the FDA issued a letter to medical device manufacturers to check the sources of heparin used in their products such as heart stents. Some vascular stents and grafts, as well as devices used in pulmonary bypass and in-vitro diagnostic procedures, are coated with heparin.
Baxter International, a German company and one of the largest suppliers of heparin issued the recall after reports of sickness and death were linked to the blood thinning drug. Thus far, 19 of the 103 deaths may be linked to Baxter’s heparin supply. The source of the contamination appears to be located in China. The FDA has not determined if the contaminant was accidentally or intentionally introduced into the contaminated heparin.