Contaminated IV Medicine in Chinese Hospitals Causing Deaths

October 15, 2008 3:32 am Last Updated: October 15, 2008 10:38 pm

At least 5 hospital patients died after receiving intravenous medicine in separate incidents in China this month, and many others became ill.

Three patients in southwestern China died after receiving the intravenous medicine called Ciwujia Fluid. The medicine was produced by the Wandashan Drug Company in Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China. The patients received the medicine at the No. 4 People's Hospital in Honghezhou, Kaiyuan City, Yunan Province.

The medicine, Ciwujia Fluid, contains the herbal extract ciwujia. The herb is used in medicines and sports drinks, including some consumed in countries outside China. Ciwujia is itself safe, but batches of the medicine in different parts of China have been found to be contaminated with insects, mold, or other foreign matter. The multiple sources suggest sloppy handling in several different processing plants in different regions of China.

Altogether 19 patients received an intravenous injection of this particular medicine, said Yang Ru, the director of the hospital. These patients developed nausea, shortness of breath and shivering after receiving the medicine. The patients who died passed away within three days of being  given the drug. Three other patients remain in critical condition.

An administrator, Sun Yuemin, from the No. 2 Affiliated Hospital of the Kunming Medical Institute, said that all the patients who had developed adverse reactions had received Ciwujia exclusively. Some of the patients even had reactions while receiving the transfusion. Therefore, the hospital decided that Ciwujia was the likely cause of the patients’ reactions.

In August, the Kaiyuan City People's Hospital had two patients who developed similar reactions after an intravenous transfusion of Ciwujia, according to Zeng Jianhe, deputy director of Honghezhou Health Bureau. However, the Ciwujia in both cases belonged to a different batch of the product.

Another two cases were reported in Qujing City of patients dying after an injection of Ciwujia.

Authorities believe that the Ciwujia, in all cases, was contaminated with a pathological microorganism.

Contamination in the South

In another case of contaminated intravenous fluid, Guangzhou Daily reported that the Gaoming District Huali Hospital in Fushan City, Guangdong Province had found foreign objects in intravenous fluids on three separate occasions. Two of the objects appeared to be insects, while another object was suspected to be mold.

The hospital, however, returned the contaminated medicine to the producer and no one was victimized in the incidents. The intravenous fluid in all three cases came from the same batch that was produced by the Litai Group Co. Ltd. in Guangdong Province.