Questions remain over company chosen to develop swine flu vaccine
Thursday, April 30, 2009
A scandal dating from January 2008, that is continuing to unfold, raises more disturbing questions over the safety of U.S. pharmaceutical company Baxter International’s vaccines.
Last year Baxter recalled almost all of its injections of the blood thinning heparin drug in the US after some patients experienced extreme – and in some cases fatal – allergic reactions, after being administered the products.
There were similar recalls by other manufacturers of Chinese-sourced heparin in Denmark, Italy, France Germany and Japan, but initial investigations found that only Baxter’s heparin vaccines were tainted.
The FDA has accused two Chinese manufacturers of being responsible for the production and shipment of the tainted vaccines, suggesting that a cheaper synthetic heparin mimic, subsequently identified as over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate (OSCS), was used to decrease costs.
However, in January 2009 a new lawsuit was filed specifically against Baxter for it’s role in the scandal.
The allegation is that the pharmaceutical giant purposefully altered an ingredient in heparin that flowed through heparin syringes to patients, resulting in pain and suffering, and sometimes death, to those affected, reported legal website Lawyers and Settlements
Somewhat ironically, the natural ingredient in heparin that was substituted in order to cut costs was a substance extracted from cooked swine intestines.
The lawsuit notes that OSCS is not found in nature, and is not approved in the United States. It accuses Baxter of using a more dangerous ingredient to “reap greater profits as a result of utilizing cheap component parts.”
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As we reported earlier this week, Baxter has been chosen by the WHO to head up efforts to produce a vaccine for the Mexican swine flu that is spreading throughout the U.S. and Europe.
The decision was made despite further revelations last month that vaccines contaminated with deadly live H5N1 avian flu virus were recently distributed to 18 countries by a lab at an Austrian branch of Baxter.
Initially, the company attempted to stonewall questions by invoking â€śtrade secretsâ€ť and refused to reveal how the vaccines were contaminated with H5N1. After increased pressure they then claimed that pure H5N1 batches were sent by accident.
However, as we have highlighted, the probability of mixing a live virus biological weapon with vaccine material by accident is virtually impossible.
This article was posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 10:54 am