Health Canada recalls a brand of blood thinner

Certain heparin medications contain a contaminant that U.S. officials have suggested may be linked to 19 deaths, Health Canada says.

Contaminated by same chemical that may be linked to 19 U.S. deaths

Certain blood-thinning medications sold in Canada contain a contaminant that U.S. officials have suggested may be linked to 19 deaths, Health Canada said Friday.

The contaminated heparin products sold in Canada, made by multinational health company B. Braun Medical Inc., do not appear to have caused any harm, Health Canada said in a release.

There has been no increase in heparin adverse reaction reports made to the department, and there was just one report of an allergic adverse reaction related to heparin between Jan. 1 and March 6, the release said.

Not much is known about the contaminant, oversulphated condroitin sulphate, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official said Wednesday.

However, FDA officials said they found it in heparin, used as a blood thinner. They also they could not directly link it to the 19 deaths in the U.S., but it was the only contaminant found in the product.

Condroitin sulphate is in the same chemical family as heparin, and oversulphated condroitin sulphate would be cheaper to manufacture than heparin, the FDA officials said.

The U.S. recalled the contaminated heparin, produced in China and marketed by Baxter International, on Feb. 28.

Health Canada said it asked heparin suppliers to test their products on March 11, using the same methodology that uncovered the U.S. problem.

Braun has recalled its heparin products.

Heparin prevents blood clots from forming, and is used after surgery and in dialysis.

Health Canada said professionals should monitor patients for allergic or anaphylactic reactions while and after they administer the drug.

Heparin is made from pig intestines. China is the world's leading supplier.

With files from the Associated Press