Friday, February 22, 2008

Baxter unaware plant not inspected

Baxter International Inc. does not monitor its supply chain to the extent that it would know that a supplier in China was never inspected before it began shipment of the blood-thinning drug heparin, which is linked to more than 300 illnesses in the U.S., the company's chief executive said Wednesday.

Baxter contracted with a Wisconsin supplier, Scientific Protein Laboratories, and not with that company's Chinese affiliate, Baxter CEO Robert Parkinson said Wednesday in his first interview since the heparin problems surfaced.

"It's not unusual for us not to know that the FDA hasn't inspected a supplier to a supplier," Parkinson said.

Deerfield-based Baxter's troubles with heparin highlight the concerns many U.S. companies and consumers have about their vulnerability to errors by suppliers from China and other less-developed countries. Problems with tainted toys, toothpaste, tires and pet food from China in the last year preceded Baxter's issues with heparin, made from an active ingredient imported from China.

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