Where Raw Heparin Comes From: A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Words

Heparin is a prescription injectable blood coagulant often used in hemodialysis (the filtering of blood) and cardiac invasive procedures. Raw Heparin comes from pig intestines that are harvested in China – often in factories that many would not refer to as sanitary – as recently published pictures show.

Is raw Heparin causing injuries?

That’s the question that has created a great deal of controversy as of late. Four deaths and hundreds of adverse patient reactions have been linked to the drug and Baxter Healthcare Corporation, who supplies half of Heparin products in the U.S., pulled many lots of the drug off of shelves a few weeks ago and has warned consumers that these adverse reactions can be fatal.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was supposed to inspect the Heparin plant in Changzhou China, which is owned by Wisconsin-based Scientific Protein Laboratories, but because of a mix up, ended up inspecting another plant with a similar name. At this point, Baxter and the FDA still don’t know if the materials produced in China are the cause of patients’ adverse reactions to the drug. However, after seeing the published pictures, it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t.

Pictures not for the squeamish

The Wall Street Journal’s online blog recently published pictures which show raw Heparin being processed at China’s Yuan Intestine & Casing Factory (not the factory involved in the scandal) where workers also make sausage. These pictures, posted at: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/02/21/making-heparin-is-a-dirty-job/?mod=sphere_ts&mod=sphere_wd are not for squeamish.

The WSJ also reported that officials have “closed [Chinese] sausage-casing companies that were producing Heparin on the side. Dirty water on the floor of one factory contained ten-centimeter-long worms.” Critics of the Heparin scandal, including several members of Congress who are investigating the matter, say that the FDA, Baxter and its suppliers should have done more to protect the millions of consumers who use the drug.

If you’ve been injured due to Heparin use, contact an attorney to discuss your situation. The consultation is free and without obligation. To contact a qualified attorney whose practice focuses in this area of law, please click here.

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