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Heparin Deaths: U.S. Blames China

Filed April 25th, 2008 amy

The American government is once again doing what it does best: pointing fingers and placing blame. This week it’s all about the deadly heparin no one wants to take responsibility for.

Reuters reports that a U.S. commerce official said today that China did not have the ability or will to regulate its economy properly, allowing the export of a chemical that tainted a blood-thinning agent suspected of killing dozens.

Calling it a “loophole that must be closed,” Christopher Padilla (the under secretary of commerce for international trade) told a group of businessmen that the United States was concerned Chinese regulators did not have the authority to monitor both pharmaceuticals and bulk chemicals.

Padilla said the FDA lacks the authority to regulate both the makers of active pharmaceutical ingredients and those that make bulk chemicals, which may be used in pharmaceuticals but are not considered to be of medicinal use. U.S. researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified this week a chemical contaminating the blood-thinner heparin from China and showed how it could cause a sometimes fatal allergic reaction.

The tainted heparin had been used by at least 81 U.S. patients who died soon afterwards. Their cases forced manufacturer Baxter International to recall the commonly used blood-thinner and caused a diplomatic squabble between the U.S. and China.

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