How Republican Ideology is Killing America: Example 1 Heparin

Nearly three years ago my grandfather, a veteran of World War II, a man in his early 80’s, and a man whom at the time was apparently as healthy as an ox, suddenly found himself in suburban Detroit’s Beaumont hospital on the verge of death. What happened to him is not unlike what happens to many American’s of his age. One day he found out that he was not nearly as healthy as he and his doctors thought he was. An emergency quadruple bi-pass later and he has never quite recovered and now looks and acts as old his 86 years would seem.

During his recovery period he had some complications with swelling in the extremities that the doctors attributed to his years of type-2 diabetes and he was placed on Heparin. After having read this article in today’s NY Times I realized just how lucky I am to still have him around. You see, apparently a combination of corporate greed and Republican ideology have come together kill at least 81 Americans not unlike my grandfather.

“F.D.A.’s working hypothesis is that this was intentional contamination, but this is not yet proven,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s drug center, told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in written testimony given Tuesday.

A third of the material in some batches of the thinner heparin were contaminants, “and it does strain one’s credulity to suggest that might have been done accidentally,” Dr. Woodcock said.

Two weeks ago, Food and Drug Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach told a Senate subcommittee that the contamination was done “by virtue of economic fraud,” but he quickly withdrew the remark, saying he had “probably gone too far.”

David G. Strunce, chief executive of Scientific Protein Laboratories, the company that supplied contaminated heparin material to Baxter International, which manufactured and distributed the finished drug, described the contamination as “an insidious act” that “seems to us an intentional act upstream in the supply chain.”

The F.D.A. has identified Changzhou SPL, a Chinese subsidiary of Scientific Protein Laboratories, as the source of the contaminated heparin. A Congressional investigator said the contaminant, oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, cost $9 a pound compared with $900 a pound for heparin.

The agency finally conducted an inspection of the facility in February and found so many problems that the F.D.A. blocked the plant from exporting to the United States. Mr. Nelson was even more critical of Baxter International, which bought heparin ingredients from Changzhou SPL from 2004 through 2008 but did not inspect the facility until September 2007.

The company sent one person who spent one day in the plant, Mr. Nelson said. Five months later, the F.D.A. discovered myriad problems, he said.

“It really is impossible for a plant to have fallen that far out of compliance in five months,” Mr. Nelson said.

Under withering questioning, Dr. Woodcock said that the F.D.A. would need another $225 million annually to inspect every foreign drug plant every other year, the frequency most say is needed. The agency will spend $11 million this year on foreign drug inspections.

You people make me sick.

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