Drug Defects: January 2010 Archives

January 19, 2010

Contaminated Heparin Injury Lawsuits Continue to Mount for Manufacturers

Heparin manufacturers, including Baxter International, Inc., are facing mounting lawsuits alleging that a known 2008 contamination of the anticoagulant caused severe injuries and deaths. Lawsuits addressing the defective drug are being filed in state and federal courts. The federal court cases are being transferred to multi-district litigation in the Northern District of Ohio.

Heparin is a blood thinner (anticoagulant) used to prevent blood clots in veins, arteries, and lungs, which is often used prior to surgery or as a coating for medical devices. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified an increase in the number of deaths and adverse events, such as anaphylactic-type reactions (allergic reactions) and acute hypotension (extremely low blood pressure), associated with Heparin use. Scientists identified a contaminate in the Heparin described as oversulfated chondroiton sulfate which mimicked heparin activity and eluded routine testing. Because of the contamination, the FDA adopted a new standard for testing Heparin in 2009.

Baxter and other manufacturers began recalling suspected contaminated Heparin in 2008. Investigations have shown that the problem may stem from Chinese producers of crude heparin. A key ingredient in Heparin is made from pig intestines in China because of the large number of available animals. Although the source of the contamination has not yet been determined according to reports, some lawsuits are alleging that the China production facilities did not meet U.S. regulation and were not inspected or approved by the FDA.

Continue reading "Contaminated Heparin Injury Lawsuits Continue to Mount for Manufacturers" »

Bookmark and Share
January 12, 2010

Humira, Other TNF Blockers Linked to Cancer in Children

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it would require Humira and other tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker prescription medications to include its strictest warning on both the packaging and prescribing information for the potentially dangerous drugs. The 'boxed warning' or 'black box warning' is now required after analysis of adverse medical incident reports submitted to the FDA showed an increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers with the use of TNF blockers such as Humira, Enbrel, Remicade and Cimzia in children and young adults. The FDA is requiring that manufacturers warn doctors and patients of the increased risk of leukemia, as well as new-onset psoriasis, on the TNF blocker packaging.

TNF blockers such as Humira, Enbrel, Remicade and Cimzia are used to treat children and young adults with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (also known as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), Crohn's disease and other diseases. The drugs work by suppressing the immune system to block the tumor necrosis factor which causes inflammation and immune system related diseases.

The black box warning for TNF blockers comes after approximately 30 reports of cancer in children and young adults under the age of 18 taking TNF blockers were reported to the FDA between 1998 and April 2008. The concern included the development of lymphoma (cancer of the cells in the immune system) and other cancers such as leukemia, melanoma and solid organ cancers in children taking TNF blockers such as Humira, Enbrel, Remicade and Cimzia. In August 2009, the FDA announced that it had tracked 48 malignancies from 2001 through 2008 associated with the use of TNF blockers in children after an average of 30 months of treatment. The FDA will continue to investigate and analyze data from long-term studies of the potentially dangerous drugs.

Continue reading "Humira, Other TNF Blockers Linked to Cancer in Children" »

Bookmark and Share