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Jenny Albano
Jenny Albano
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Contaminant Found in Blood Thinner Herapin

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A contaminant has been found in the blood thinner herapin that has been associated with 19 deaths. U.S. health officials are trying to figure out how the chemical made its way into the drug. The contaminant is called oversulfated condroitin sulfate, which does not naturally occur.

The herapin in question was recalled on February 28 and the FDA says there have not been any new deaths since that time. The main ingredient from the blood thinner was imported from China.

Condroitin sulfate is a natural compound that occurs widely and can be used as a dietary supplement, but the oversulfated version has not been widely studied. The FDA does not know whether the chemical was accidentally or deliberately added to the herapin and are investigating. The FDA has started testing all imported herapin into the U.S. so doctors and patients can use the product safely.

Condroitin sulfate is a compound in the same family as heparin, so preliminary testing did not identify it, but more exacting tests by the government and some university researchers found the contaminant.

Oversulfated condroitin sulfate would be less expensive to make than heparin, but FDA officials said they could not estimate the cost difference. The lots of heparin linked to hundreds of allergic reactions were marketed by Baxter International and produced in China. FDA said Chinese officials have been highly cooperative in the investigation.

The FDA said that they could not conclusively link the oversulfated condroitin sulfate to the deaths and side effects, but they have not identified any other contaminant.