Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jury Rules Against Baxter In Contaminated Chinese Heparin Case - "The Cheap Stuff"

An Illinois jury on Thursday awarded $625,000 to the estate of a Chicago-area man who was administered a blood-thinning drug that contained a contaminated ingredient medical-products company Baxter International Inc. (BAX) manufactured in China.
It was the first of hundreds of pending lawsuits against Baxter to go to trial.
The cases are related to a 2008 finding by the Food and Drug Administration, which discovered a link between contaminated heparin marketed by Baxter to Chinese suppliers of the active ingredient used in heparin. In the U.S., the contaminated heparin was linked to dozens of deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions.
Plaintiffs contended 63-year-old Steve Johansen received low doses of contaminated heparin during dialysis and a bolus dose during a subsequent hospitalization at Palos Community Hospital in late 2007.

The active pharmaceutical ingredient in the contaminated heparin received by Mr. Johansen and other Americans was obtained from Baxter/SPL's Chinese supplier, Changzhou SPL (a joint venture with SPL).  This crude heparin was referred to in the companies' own internal records as "the cheap stuff."  Baxter and SPL knew that the plant had never been inspected by the U.S. FDA (which the FDA later attributed to clerical error) or Chinese regulatory officials.  When the Chinese plant was finally inspected by the FDA after the heparin contamination crisis, multiple violations were found resulting in an import ban.  Additional evidence also brought to light during the trial established that Baxter and SPL failed to establish and comport with quality/purity specifications, including an impurity profile, and failed to trace and control their supply chain.  At trial, the Court granted partial directed verdict in favor of Mr. Johansen holding that the product sold by Baxter and SPL was defective as a matter of law.

According to the verdict, the award of compensation was for pain and suffering and was found against Baxter and the Chinese supplier, Scientific Protein Laboratories LLC.
Baxter spokeswoman Deborah Spak said the company is taking responsibility for legitimate cases of harm related to the contamination seriously, adding that Baxter will "vigorously defend claims that are not consistent with the definition established by public health authorities."
Baxter's therapies treat serious medical problems such as cancer, immune disorders and trauma. The company is coming off a challenging year due to economic weakness, costs pegged to the U.S. health-care overhaul and some product-quality and regulatory challenges.

Impact of Bleeding-related Complications and/or Blood Product Transfusions on Hospital Costs in Inpatient Surgical Patients

Inadequate surgical hemostasis may lead to transfusion and/or other bleeding-related complications. This study examines the incidence and costs of bleeding-related complications and/or blood product transfusions occurring as a consequence of surgery in various inpatient surgical cohorts. 
Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted using Premier's Perspective hospital database.
Patients who had an inpatient procedure within a specialty of interest (cardiac, vascular, non-cardiac thoracic, solid organ, general, reproductive organ, knee/hip replacement, or spinal surgery) during 2006-2007 were identified. For each specialty, the rate of bleeding-related complications (including bleeding event, intervention to control for bleeding, and blood product transfusions) was examined, and hospital costs and length of stay (LOS) were compared between surgeries with and without bleeding-related complications.
Incremental costs and ratios of average total hospital costs for patients with bleeding-related complications vs. those without complications were estimated using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, adjusting for demographics, hospital characteristics, and other baseline characteristics.
Models using generalized estimating equations (GEE) were also used to measure the impact of bleeding-related complications on costs while accounting for the effects related to the clustering of patients receiving care from the same hospitals. 

Results: A total of 103,829 cardiac, 216,199 vascular, 142,562 non-cardiac thoracic, 45,687 solid organ, 362,512 general, 384,132 reproductive organ, 246,815 knee/hip replacement, and 107,187 spinal surgeries were identified. Overall, the rate of bleeding-related complications was 29.9% and ranged from 7.5% to 47.4% for general reproductive organ and cardiac, respectively.

Overall, incremental LOS associated with bleeding-related complications or transfusions (unadjusted for covariates) was 6.0 days and ranged from 1.3 to 9.6 days for knee/hip replacement and non-cardiac thoracic, respectively. The incremental cost per hospitalization associated with bleeding-related complications and adjusted for covariates was highest for spinal surgery ($17,279) followed by vascular ($15,123), solid organ ($13,210), non-cardiac thoracic ($13,473), cardiac ($10,279), general ($4,354), knee/hip replacement ($3,005), and reproductive organ ($2,805). 

Conclusions: This study characterizes the increased hospital LOS and cost associated with bleeding-related complications and/or transfusions occurring as a consequence of surgery, and supports implementation of blood-conservation strategies.