Heparin Supply Chain Shaky in China

Troubles could trace back to vulnerable raw materials
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Feb 28, 2008 2:07 PM CST
Chinese workers watch a pharmaceutical production line at a Beijing factory.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – With at least four US patients dead and hundreds suffering complications from the blood-thinning drug heparin, the New York Times follows the supply chain back to Chinese slaughterhouses that deal with the pig intestines that provide raw material for the drug. Though companies say the chain is secure, the Times finds it vulnerable to contamination and lack of oversight.

American investigators are trying to determine where in the process the crude heparin, refined from pig intestines, is being contaminated. Heparin-maker Baxter International has stopped producing multi-dose vials of the drug while investigators audit the records of a US company’s Chinese subsidiary, Changzhou SPL, which collects and refines the raw material.