Heparin Horrors

In a sad follow-up to the Doc Gurley article, Is Your Medicine Contaminated?, independent authorities have now increased the number of deaths due to contaminated heparin from 19 to over 100. TheYour Sterile Heparin manufacturer, Baxter, hopes we’ll believe claims there were only 4 (not a big surprise to those of us who are familiar with drug companies cynical). This hot-button issue – the massive off-shoring of pharmaceutical production to unregulated third world countries in order to increase already-obscene profits – still seems to simmer below the mainstream news. Lots of articles exist about contaminated heparin, and almost nothing is said about the reason why – the cheap unregulated China production of our supposedly pure medicines. Keep in mind that we taxpayers are obligated to fly FDA inspectors to China to regulate pharmaceuticals there at our expense. For that reason, even though the squalid, nausea-inducing conditions of heparin production in China that this new article revealed were deeply disturbing,

it was also oddly a relief to finally see the AP cover the topic. The AP article also revealed the fact that the FDA says it didn’t ever inspect the heparin facility because of a “communication error,” and we taxpayers are now paying for five new China employees (not exported U.S. inspectors, but actual China citizens) to help with this. Makes you wonder how many “communication errors” there would be if the plant was in Cleveland? Five Cleveland employees’ worth? In other related China-contaminated-heparin news, the only other major media outlet that’s written an in-depth series of articles about this topic is the New York Times, for which one of the writers, Walt Bogdanich, just won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize (an award which some might say also shows the grim importance of this issue).

Are you offended yet? Feeling a bit worried about that pill you need to take? Take a moment and regain some personal power – suggest some action steps for everyone to take in order to change things in the comments section below.

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