08192017Headline:

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Michael Eyerly
Michael Eyerly
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Possible Problems Found In Blood Thinning Drug Heparin Highlight FDA's Inability to Protect You

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In a previous blog entry I lamented the steady decline of our public agencies’ ability to protect particularly vulnerable segments of our society, as well as Big Business’s ability to use its influence and power to further stifle meaningful consumer protection. For example, California’s budget crisis has resulted in across the board budget reductions for state agencies charged with protecting consumers against defective and dangerous products, and protecting our children and the elderly against unsafe child care or residential care facilities.

Another example of the consuming public’s vulnerability to dangerous products is found in today’s news. Testing of the blood-thinning drug heparin has “revealed possible irregularities in some of the samples of a blood thinner linked to several deaths and hundreds of life-threatening reactions.” This from a spokesperson for Baxter Healthcare Corp. Testing revealed differences in the quantities of the active ingredient manufactured in China.

This incident comes at the same time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is facing mounting questions about its inability to protect consumers against dangerous drugs. The agency is notoriously underfunded. Here’s the problem. Although most of the bulk ingredients used by U.S. drug companies are imported, the FDA inspects only about 7% of foreign drug plants a year. In fact, the plant in China suspected in this case, has never been inspected by the FDA.

What is interesting is to compare the FDA’s lack of oversight ability with the position it previously took concerning Canadian prescription drug imports. Prescription drugs are far more expensive here than in Canada, and low income individuals were blocked from getting their prescription drugs from Canada. People were having to chose between medicine and food. The reason given by the FDA for the bar on Canadian prescription drugs was safety. Of course, the policy also protected the big profits made by U.S. drug makers who charged consumers in the U.S. far more for the same drugs sold in Canada. In any event, this latest incident concerning heparin just goes to further show how our public agencies are not equipped to protect us. One, they simply do not have the resources. Two, sometimes it appears these agencies are more concerned about the welfare of large corporations than you and me.

Trial lawyers represent the last bastion of regulatory protection in this country. We still work tirelessly to hold corporations accountable when they choose to profit from harmful or defective products. We still fight for the little guy. We still fight for you.