Heparin Recall Update

The heparin recall that was linked to China has now spread to 11 countries and has been definitively linked to the serious health effects of numerous people as well as 81 deaths in the United States.
A high ranking Chinese embassy official has disputed the findings and is pushing for inspections of US plants where the finished heparin product was manufactured. The news belies a growing tension between the two countries regarding the safety and quality of Chinese exports including toys, drugs, and raw materials.
The F.D.A. sent a warning letter on Monday to Changzhou SPL, the Chinese plant identified as the source of contaminated heparin made by Baxter International in the United States. It warned that the plant used unclean tanks to make heparin, that it accepted raw materials from an unacceptable vendor and that it had no adequate way to remove impurities.
Heparin is made from the mucous membranes of the intestines of slaughtered pigs that, in China, are often cooked in unregulated family workshops. The contaminant, identified as oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, a cheaper substance, slipped through the usual testing and was recognized only after more sophisticated tests were used.
The F.D.A. has identified 12 Chinese companies that have supplied contaminated heparin to 11 countries — Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States. Deborah Autor, director of compliance at the F.D.A.’s drug center, said the agency did not know the original source of all the contamination or the points in the supply chain at which it was added.