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More Injection Solutions Contaminated – Hospira Warned by FDA


Hospira is a drug manufacturer with big problems. It claims it provides “high-quality, lower-cost generic medications”, among other products.   In the past year, however, the company has received four warning letters from the FDA. And, within the past several weeks, Hospira “voluntarily” recalled two more drugs, both of which contain strands of glass. According to the company, “glass strands were identified as being affixed to the inside of the vial walls, which had the potential to dislodge into the solution, potentially endangering the patient by inducing vomiting or even embolisms.”

Hospira has a troubling history of problems both in its India plant and the manufacturing facility located in Rocky Mount, NC.  In May 2013 The FDA issued a warning letter to the Hospira facility in India referring to unaddressed issues discovered during an inspection in October 2012; included were 6 separate issues relating to sterility practices. The letter noted similar issues were found in a February-March 2013 inspection of the Hospira facility in Rocky Mount, NC.

Looking a little deeper I found a series of recalls on multiple Hospira products, all containing particles or other contaminants. In early March 2013, Hospira recalled lots of five different injectable products. Later that same month, Hospira issued a nationwide recall due to the presence of particles determined to be brass and lead in sodium chloride injections.

In August 2013, there was a recall for a specific lot of Aminosyn after a customer found an unknown particle in the injection, which turned out to be human hair. Two weeks later Hospira had to recall a lot of Lidocaine that was found to contain bits of oxidized stainless steel.

Hospira issued a third recall in August for faulty blood bags due to a design error in “which the outer wall of blood bags were punctured with the piercing pin on certain Hospira blood sets during insertion of the pin into the blood bag.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration  (FDA) characterized the action as Class I recall, necessitating this notice.

At issue here is the continued inability of Hospira to improve its manufacturing conditions. Four warning letters in one year. A plant on foreign soil where the conditions are so bad that the FDA questions whether it uses sterile gloves.   Is that “high quality”?  It may be “lower cost”, but high quality seems to be in question. According to a Forbes article,  in May of 2013 Hospira replaced plant managers at all five of its drug manufacturing facilities. There is new leadership at the top and much energy has, supposedly, been put into fixing the issues. But we have seen at least 3 more issues in August, and this latest problem in October 2013 speaks to the company’s continuing inability  to produce sterile products.

This drug manufacturer makes products designed to be injected in humans—contaminated with oxidized steel, glass shards, human hair and other undetermined particles. These problems are potentially harmful and unacceptable under any circumstances.  Profits should not overtake this company’s (and others in the news) to produce a safe, useful product.  What if only a small percentage of drug defects have been detected from Hospira?  Would you want to be one of the recipients of a drug it produced?   Hopefully, Hospira will clean up its act, literally and figuratively.  Until then, I would hope and pray that I did not receive one of its “high-quality, lower-cost” medications.

The FDA Warning Letter can be found at:   http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2013/ucm355131.htm

Headline Image Source: karpatchi / flickrCC BY-SA 2.0




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  1. Bob says:
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    This author is an uninformed fool, reading this article as a health care professional is like a physician watching ER…his jiberish is simply inaccurate and false. Please use caution when jumping to conclusions based on his tainted views.

  2. Chris says:
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    Hospira’s senior management team deliberatly in an elaborate way, raided the companies wealth by making destructive cost cutting moves to all plants. Laid off valuable employees. All in effort to raise stock price and profit from it. Just look back in 2009 what transpired. CEO had vendeta against employee for class action lawsuit from spin off from Abbott. Threatend to close facilities if demands were not met. Company is now in shambles. Customers can not get the needed drugs. Peoples lives are at stake and corporate officers made off with millions of dollars.

    All you have to do is go back 3 yrs and see what caused this mess. Hospira senior managements greed brought this on and they don’t want to own up to it. Some have left the company with millions and many more still remain to cover their tracks.
    The CEO (Begley) in 2009 put forth a plan to boost the company from single digits to double digit growth. To achieve this, they would basically make massive spending cuts across all manufacturing facilities and layoff 10% of workforce. To make a long story short. Wall street loved it. The stock price soared (temporarily). CEO and some others cashed in on the stock and options, collected on bonuses and “got out of Dodge”.
    It’s criminal what they have gotten away with. SEC and justice dept. turns a blind eye to it. People lives have been hurt if not terminated from their greed.

  3. Michael Phelan says:
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    The author provides facts and links to FDA data. You provide nothing but name calling. P.S. learn how to spell gibberish and what it means. You may disagree with Mr. Webb’s opinions, but his writing is certainly not unintelligible or meaningless.