Pharmaceutical

Heparin scandal makes 2008 top 10 lists

The tainted heparin scandal was listed as the No. 1 story in the Chicago Tribune’s “The Top 10 local business stories of 2008.”

Early in 2008, more than 80 Americans died and hundreds more were sickened after receiving injections of heparin. An investigation found that batches of heparin manufactured in Baxter International’s China facility had been tainted with a contaminant that caused severe allergic reactions in patients who received the doses. As a result, lots of heparin manufactured by Baxter International were recalled.

The Chicago Tribune story says both the FDA and Baxter International believe the heparin was “intentionally adulterated by suppliers in China.”

The tainted heparin scandal beat out other big local news stories in the Chicago Tribune’s top 10 list, including the Tribune Co.’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; the city reaching the final phase of competition to host the 2016 Summer Olympics; and the selling of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. to Mars Inc., creating the world’s largest confectionary company.

The concern over imported foods and drugs landed heparin on U.S. News & World Report’s list of top health stories. Titled, “Dubious Drugs, Tainted Foods Top 2008’s Health Stories,” the story groups the tainted heparin with salmonella-tainted jalapeno peppers imported from Mexico on its list of food and drug scares. Contaminated heparin keeps company on that list with with the FDA’s warning about over-the-counter cold meds for young children and the American Cancer Society’s announcement that for the first time since 1998, when statistics began to be compiled, the number of people who developed cancer or died from the disease has dropped.

Here’s to a happier, healthier New Year!