May 15, 2008

Recalling Unsafe Goods

You may recall my post on the blood thinner Heparin about a month ago.  I posted a story for the New York Times about how the drug can become contaminated at the harvesting-step of production. 
It turns out that, even when harvested properly, physicians and nurses can also make mistakes in administrating the drug.  In the case of Dennis Quaid (famous actor living in Los Angeles), he believes that his newborn twins were administered 1,000 times that prescribed drug, because two bottles containing different concentrations of Heparin looked so much alike.  He blames Baxter, the company that distributes Heparin, for not making the bottles more distinguashable one from the other.
I imagine most people would have blamed the nurses, physicians, hospitals, or even the State for not regulating work hours of the medical staff (it seems that most errors happen when the staff is overworked and tired), so it's an interesting choice for Mr. Quaid to go after Baxter.  But whatever your take on this situation is, it highlights that there are so many goods that can be unsafe (from toy products with lead, and contaminated spinach, to poorly labelled medications).  In a way, I'm glad I live in a place that takes these sorts of allegations seriously, and rectifies potentially unsafe situations.

Actor Dennis Quaid told lawmakers Wednesday how his newborn twins came close to death after an overdose of blood-thinning medication, the fault of a drug company that did not recall easily confused bottles despite previous problems, he said.

The incident occurred last year at a Los Angeles, California, hospital, Quaid told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In The actor also said the 'infants nearly died because of a drug company's failure to put safety first.'

The panel's hearing focused on the issue of 'pre-emption,' under which FDA approval guarantees immunity for drug companies against state lawsuits, because federal law supersedes state law.

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