What is Heparin?
Heparin is widely used as an injectable anticoagulant. It can also be used to form an inner anticoagulant surface on various experimental and medical devices such as test tubes and renal dialysis machines. Pharmaceutical grade heparin is derived from mucosal tissues of slaughtered meat animals, such as pig intestine or cow lung.
What are the dangers associated with Heparin?
In March 2008, major recalls of heparin were announced by the FDA due to contamination of the raw heparin stock imported from China. The FDA admitted that it had violated its own policies by failing to inspect the American pharmaceutical firm Scientific Protein’s plant in China before approving the drug for sale.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was quoted as stating that at least 81 deaths were believed linked to a raw heparin ingredient imported from the People’s Republic of China, and that they had also received 785 reports of serious injuries associated with the drug’s use.
Problems with the contaminated heparin included:
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Rapidly falling blood pressure that led to life-threatening shock
The New York Times reported the contaminant has been identified as an “over-sulphated” derivative of chondroitin sulfate, a popular shellfish derived supplement often used for arthritis. It was estimated the heparin was cut from anywhere from 2-60 percent with a counterfeit substance due to cost effectiveness, and a shortage of suitable pigs in China.
The FDA has stated it does not have the funds nor bear the responsibility to inspect on a regular basis overseas manufacturers of active pharmaceutical ingredients such as heparin.
What can I do?
If you or a loved one suffered death or serious injury as a result of contaminated heparin use, you have specific legal rights. For a free legal consultation, please contact us today.