Life-threatening contaminated medication endangers 67 at Pemex hospital

Pemex informed they have already removed the contaminated lot and have filed a lawsuit against those who are responsible

Life-threatening contaminated medication endangers 67 at Pemex hospital
The sodium heparin used for hemodialysis had bacterial contamination – Photo: Thomas Peters/REUTERS
English 03/03/2020 13:09 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Notimex & Leobardo Pérez Marín/EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 12:38

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On Sunday night, Mexico’s state oil company Pemex informed that they are still providing medical care in its Villahermosa hospital to 67 beneficiaries - three of them have passed away and six of them are still on intensive care - affected by the application of the C18E881 lot of sodium heparin.

Last Saturday, Pemex revealed that they performed an “exhaustive revision” of the hemodialysis process at the Pemex Regional Hospital in the capital of Tabasco due to the report of adverse reactions in patients.

Therefore, the lot, contaminated by a bacteria, was removed and a lawsuit has been filed against those who are responsible in order to define responsibilities.

According to a  March 17 statement by Pemex, there are 51 patients receiving medical treatment of which 38 are receiving ambulatory care, 13 are hospitalized, 12 are reported with stable conditions, and remains in the intensive care unit.

Likewise, according to Pemex, from February 29 to March 17, at least eight patients have passed away: María Soledad (55), Patricia Jiménez Marín (54), Feliciano Sánchez Osorio (65), Marina Sánchez González (49), Baldemar García Flores (77), and Bienvenido Sánchez Feria (76), and Nahúm Domínguez García (72)

Nevertheless, relatives claim there have more deceases linked to the contaminated medication, such as the case of Javier Acosta (57) whose relatives were told by Pemex medical staff that he had died of natural causes despite receiving the contaminated sodium heparin.

Likewise, the case of Salvador Córdoba Díaz (75), who passed away on March 11, is considered a collateral victim by Pemex for he got infected by the bacteria via a contaminated catheter.

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Pemex has committed to assuming its “responsibility to protect, guarantee, respect, and promote the right to health of workers and their families and reasserts its commitment to the comprehensive attention of this regrettable event.”

According to Pemex, on February 27, the Regional Hospital received a patient with a high fever and sweat, with antecedents of receiving hemodialysis the previous day. On the early morning of February 28, there were four more cases, the reason why they decided to make an analysis of the medical procedure.

“There was a selective culture of the involved catheters, hemodialysis machines, and materials, of which none developed bacteria except for the medicine called Sodium Heparin,” said the oil company in a statement.

The hospital has closed the hemodialysis area, according to relatives of the patients who are still hospitalized, and the patients will be transferred to another health center of the state.

The relatives of the affected patients are preparing a criminal lawsuit and are demanding the resignation of the director of the health center José Luis Oramas Vargas.

Sodium heparin is a medicine used to prevent the creation of blots in people with certain conditions, who receive specific medical procedures – among them hemodialysis – or after surgery, according to information of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Previous warning. In 2008, the FDA warned about the distribution of contaminated sodium heparin in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Back then, there were 81 deceases related to the medicine only in the U.S., as reported by the FDA.

The symptoms presented by the affected patients were low blood pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

According to the FDA, it was identified that the medicine had been elaborated by 12 Chinese companies.

The FDA mentioned that the sodium heparin was contaminated because a cheaper product was used for its manufacturing.

Nevertheless, Chinese authorities denied the accusations and said the problem was occasioned in the U.S.

The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) opened an ex officio complaint to investigate alleged violations to the constitutional guarantees of at least two patients who passed away and 42 affected by a contaminated medication at the Pemex Regional Hospital in Villahermosa.

In a statement, the CNDH informed that the president of the organization, Rosario Piedra Ibarra, has ordered staff to begin an investigation with the objective of determining whether the patients’ human rights were violated.

As of Friday, at least four bacterias had been detected in one of the patients who received the contaminated sodium heparin.

According to Pemex, 56 patients are receiving medical care of which 13 are receiving ambulatory care without affectations to their health condition; 43 are hospitalized, 35 of the with stable conditions and 8 are in the intensive care unit.

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