All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Heparin Contamination: effort to maximize profits?

FDA Identifies Contaminant Found in Baxter's Heparin makes an interesting story.

Let us assume that the identified contaminant, oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, appears at the same point as Heparin on chromatographic analysis. If the cost of this chemical is significantly lower than the cost of Heparin API, it presents an argument that how much of this contaminant was added to lower the total cost of the Active being shipped. This was all in an effort to increase profits. If people lost their lives, it did not matter to the API producers.

There has to be a minimum threshold below which side effects of the contaminant were not noticeable. Could it be that the API producers did not know the highest safe threshold? Since they did not know the safe threshold, stepwise increasing amounts of the contaminant were added by overzealous entrepreneurs to lower the cost and maximize their profits. Unfortunately, the recent lots the additive reached the threshold where the side effects were pronounced, some people lost their lives, and others became sick.

We can blame FDA for non-inspection, ill inspection, and Baxter for not having the necessary protocol in place. They are not to be blamed 100%.

Finding the sulfate contaminant is a case of pure adulteration. It is very similar to the pet feed contamination, where melamine was added to increase the nitrogen content of the pet food.

Low or no value additives can be added to bulk up the product hoping that no one will notice. Some very smart people are involved in these issues. They know how to use the knowledge base for profit. Greed comes into play. Unfortunately, people lost their life.

Pharma companies and regulatory agencies have to increase their due diligence and understand mindset of the people who are willing to “make a buck” at any cost.

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