US Made Blood Products
Quarantined Over Mad Cow Fears
TORONTO -- Hema Quebec and Canadian Blood Services have asked hospitals to quarantine potentially tainted blood products until at least Monday.
The products, made by Bayer in the United States, may contain plasma from an American donor who is infected with the Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. It's a deadly neurological disorder, the human strain of the so-called mad cow disease.
Hema Quebec says there's no proof the disease can be passed on through blood, but it says Health Canada is taking precautions just in case.
Dr. Mindy Goldman said the American donor gave plasma at least 100 times during the past two years. Because donations are pooled and divided up to make blood products, one donor could theoretically infect the whole batch, she said.
"Just because there haven't been any cases doesn't mean one can say there never will be any or that we're 100 per cent sure that there can't be transmission," Goldman told CBC News.
The Canadian Hemophilia Society is glad the blood agencies are being vigilant, but are concerned the quarantine could lead to a shortage. "The danger from shortages of these products is probably greater than the danger from using them," said David Page.
Health Canada is expected to decide whether or not to permanently withdraw the products early this week. Officials are to meet tomorrow with their American counterparts to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, a U.S. food and drug administration committee could decide to ban blood donations from citizens who have recently lived in Britain. Canadian Blood Services has decided against banning British donors. But the Americans believe it may be worth considering.
"Mad Cow" Drug Given to 49 Hong Kong Patients 12-21-98
HONG KONG (Reuters) -- Forty-nine patients in Hong Kong may have been given a drug feared to be contaminated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human variant of "mad cow" disease, the Hospital Authority said on Friday.
Five hospitals and a clinic in the territory would recall 1,217 vials of the drug "Koate HP, Antihaemophilic Factor VII (Human)" that they had administered to patients since July, the authority said in a statement.
The authority, which runs the territory's public medical services, said the chemical's manufacturer Bayer Corp was withdrawing the injection drug for hemophiliac patients.
Bayer had learnt that a donor who had donated plasma for the manufacture of the product had since been diagnosed with the "classical" strain of CJD, and was therefore withdrawing the batch that was produced with the plasma from that donor.
A total of 1,800 vials of the drug have been supplied to hospitals and clinic since July. Of them, 1,217 had been given to 49 patients who might have injected the product.
The remaining 583 vials had not been given out, the authority said. Hospitals and clinic would on Saturday start asking the patients to hand back unused vials. But the authority stressed "there is no practical risk of transmission of classical CJD on humans from any blood products including plasma derivatives". However, it added there was a "very small risk associated with new variant - CJD".
CJD has been linked to eating meat contaminated with bovine spongifrom encephalopathy, known as mad cow disease.