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tressa_4 03-08-2008 11:22 AM

Hospitals Face Heparin Recall
Hospitals Face Heparin Recall

(Rochester, N.Y.) - A second brand of Heparin has been linked to illnesses in Germany, raising fears that problems with contamination of the blood-thinning drug could be more widespread than initially believed.

All vials of Heparin made by U.S. supplier Baxter International were recalled last week, after it was linked to 19 deaths and found to be contaminated.

Heparin is administered to approximately 70% of all hospitalized patients. It prevents blood clots in everything from major heart surgeries to simple IV lines.

The University of Rochester Medical Center had only been using Heparin from Baxter until last week, when all of that brand was recalled.

Within a day, Strong pharmacists replaced their entire Heparin supply with that from a different manufacturer.

"We're able to meet our needs for the hospital, so we don't have a shortage here or at our other (facility)," said Curtis Haas, director of pharmacy at URMC. "It's just that if I tried to order 3 months worth of Heparin, I wouldn't be able to get that because there's not that much in the system."

Other U.S. manufacturers of Heparin have promised to double production to meet sudden demand, so the medical center doesn't expect a supply problem and so far, no patient procedures have been affected.

"We haven't noticed any disruption in patient care as a result of the Baxter Heparin problem," said Dr. Andrew Rudmann, chief of hospital medicine at URMC.

Both Unity Hospital and Rochester General Hospital use different brands of Heparin, and weren't impacted by the current recall though they say they're prepared if more brands of the drug are found to be contaminated.

"This is not the first time that hospitals have had to deal with issues such as these," said Dr. Ron Kirschner, chief of cardiac services at Rochester General. "And I think there was enough warning so that most hospitals will be able to secure supplies of Heparin."

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration said it is urging all U.S. suppliers of Heparin to begin screening their product to make sure their supplies are contaminant-free.

Both Baxter and Rotex, who supplied the recalled Heparin in Germany, get their main ingredients from China.

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