Heparin sodium is medication used to thin the blood. It is often administered intravenously. It is used with patients that need kidney dialysis, many types of cardiac surgery, and many other conditions often those involving risk of blood clots. Severe injuries have been reported with this drug recently. The adverse events usually started within minutes of the administration of the heparin initiation but there may also be a delayed reaction. In the short time since December 2007 there has been about 350 known problems with this drug according to the FDA. Other reports indicate there may have been as many as 800 adverse reactions from the drug. Sadly as many as forty percent of the incidents are considered to be serious with 46 patients that may have died from the drug.
The heparin products at issue were all distributed by Baxter Healthcare Corporation. The recall began on January 17, 2008.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, the cause of this huge number of adverse events from the heparin from this distributor is not yet known to the FDA. A recent article in the NY Times suggests that Baxter Healthcare and its supplier Scientific Protein Laboratories are providing conflicting stories about who is at fault and why. We will keep you informed.