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International News

China Hemophiliacs Face Dangerous Shortage of Drug

September 18, 2007

The Beijing News recently reported that some hemophiliacs in China have died because of a severe shortage of an effective hemophilia drug -- a shortage blamed on China's efforts to clean up its unsafe blood supply. The shortage of factor 8, a protein necessary for blood clotting, has endangered tens of thousands of patients; some have died.

The shortage results from shrinking plasma supplies after the government launched a campaign in 2004 to shut down small blood collection centers and improve safety measures in the manufacture of blood-based products. Plasma made into drugs has dropped from up to 5,000 tons to less than 3,000 tons a year, the newspaper reported. Plasma procured now needs to be stored for 90 days and screened for HIV and hepatitis C.

Even large hospitals in major cities were experiencing factor 8 shortages; only three pharmaceutical companies in China are still making the drug, according to Beijing News. Dozens of hemophiliac groups have petitioned state leaders for help.

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"We appeal to the government to take urgent action to import large amounts for factor 8 from abroad and save the lives of Chinese hemophilia sufferers," said a letter to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. The Health Ministry had vowed to allocate more plasma for factor 8 production, but it did not say whether the ban on imports of foreign-made blood products, in place since 1986 for fear of HIV, would be lifted.

Blood transfusion is still a major factor driving HIV's transmission in China. In the 1990s, Henan province became the center of China's HIV/AIDS epidemic due to blood buying by often unsanitary state-run clinics. A cluster of HIV infections was also reported in the 1990s among hemophiliacs receiving factor 8 manufactured from tainted plasma by a Shanghai company.

Back to other news for September 2007

Adapted from:
Reuters
9.14.2007


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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