In a Delaware hospital, two patients have died and one is severely ill after taking heparin, the popular blood thinner manufactured by Baxter International. There is worry that the drug may be contaminated…again.
Last year, contaminated heparin made from raw drug stock originating in China killed 81 people. There was speculation that the contamination had been deliberate, but the FDA could not confirm this.
Heparin is a drug derived predominantly from pig intestines. The heparin currently under scrutiny comes from North American-derived bulk material supplied by Pfizer.
Pfizer, based in New York, said it hasn’t received any other reports of adverse reactions from heparin. It supplies the active ingredient for Baxter heparin, manufactured in Ohio. A spokesman for Pfizer said the company gets bulk material from both North America and China, but that "Baxter believes the lot used in Delaware used North American raw materials."
Baxter spokeswoman Erin Gardiner said that, unlike the earlier cases, the Delaware patients didn’t have severe hypotension, or low blood pressure. The current symptoms involve intracranial bleeding, she said.
"We are not pointing fingers at Baxter," said Beebe Medical Center spokesman Wallace Hudson. "We don’t know what’s going on, but heparin is the only commonality that we were able to see ourselves." –The Wall Street Journal
Upon discovering the illness of the three patients, Delaware’s Beebe Medical Center immediately contacted the FDA. Medical teams were sent to Delaware to have the suspect heparin analyzed at a lab in Queens, New York. So far, the FDA has said that this seems to be an isolated incident, and that no contaminants have been detected in the heparin.