New deaths, illness following heparin use spark FDA investigation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is testing batches of the blood thinner heparin after two people died and one became ill after receiving doses of the heparin, according to the Wall Street Journal.

All three incidences occurred at the Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Delaware, and all three were given heparin supplied by Baxter, the same drug company at the center of last year’s contaminated heparin scandal. That heparin, which killed more than 80 people and injured hundreds more, was manufactured in China. The latest batch was manufactured in Ohio.

The heparin in question involves premixed intravenous bags of heparin whereas the previous heparin, which was later found to have been contaminated with a heparin-mimicing substance called over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS), involved vials of the medicine and drug-coated medical devices.

The symptoms suffered from the newest victims involved intracranial bleeding; the previous deaths and illnesses were caused by severely low blood pressure. Immediately following the adverse reactions, the hospital contacted Baxter, which immediately contacted the FDA.

Both Baxter and the FDA sent medical teams to Delaware and the FDA took samples of the heparin for testing. “As far as we can determine at this point, it appears to be an isolated incident,” says FDA spokewoman Karen Riley.

Baxter has tested for but not found the contaminant OSCS to be in the batches of heparin taken from Beebe Medical Center. Baxter insists the heparin used on the patients who became ill at Beebe was not manufactured in China but in North America.