Friday, March 14, 2008

TAINTED HEPARIN LINKED TO CHINA: No firings at Baxter and Scientific Protein Laboratories yet

Who wants to be the next buyer for our new line of cheap drugs?

"The contaminant found in the blood-thinner heparin, which has been linked to hundreds of allergic reactions and possibly 19 deaths in the United States, has been traced to a Chinese plant that processed raw ingredients for the drug, U.S. health officials said Friday," according to US News & World Report.

The supplier to Baxter through Scientific Protein Laboratories of Waunakee, Wisc., was the Changzhou SPL plant in Changzhou City, China.

US News reported that Baxter's analysis of the contaminant was not complete but that the compound "was approximately the same molecular weight as heparin and is similar in other ways, which is why standard testing [did] not detect its presence."

The contamination was so widespread in Baxter's drug that the company has essentially been removed from the heparin business by events. Because it was a dominant player in the US market, the entire heparin supply in this country is under suspicion and due for recall.

In a fair country which valued logic and clear thinking, Baxter would be put out of business permanently, along with its partner Scientific Protein Laboratories. Its business leaders would be disgraced men.

Contrast this ongoing case with the fate of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company of Chino, California. Responsible for the largest meat recall in US history when the American Humane Society released film of its employees killing downer sick cattle for the food supply, the company was put out of business.

Its president, Steven Mendell of Newport Beach, CA, was recently before a Congressional panel, apologizing and explaining that his life had been flushed down the toilet when he lost control of proper practice in his company.

"Obviously my system broke down," Mendell told a House committee intent on grilling him.

"[Mendell] told lawmakers that he had received death threats, that his family and employees had suffered, and that his company [was ruined] and would not reopen," reported the LA Times earlier this week.

Mendell said his life had gone up in smoke.

Mendell was asked whether he would eat meat from cows slaughtered in the way the Humane Society of America video company showed his company was killing them.

"No," he said.

Westland/Hallmark's beef has, so far, not been implicated in illness, unlike the heparin of Baxter. However, downer cows are kept from the food supply because they may be suffering from neurological disease which can be transmitted in the processed meat and which manifests only slowly (with no cure) in human populations.

This was a fact not lost upon Congressmen who commented Mendell might be dead by the time any potential disease shows up, although the risk of fatal dementia was deemed remote.

Westland/Hallmark's beef was sold in Progresso's Italian Wedding Soup, a food that your host regularly enjoys. However, as is the case with food and drug contamination in the formerly good ol' USA of 2008, by the time one reads about trouble in the consumables, one has already consumed them. When news hit that Progresso Italian Wedding Soup should be returned because it contained Westland/Hallmark meat, DD had already eaten what was in the house.

If I feel the effects of prion-caused dementia, I'll let you know in about a decade.

The LA Times on Westland/Hallmark.


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