Around the Nation

Around the Nation

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Drug Probably Altered For Profit, U.S. Says

Federal regulators suspect that Baxter International's recalled blood thinner, heparin, was intentionally contaminated to increase profit, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

Baxter recalled most of its heparin products in February after reports of allergic reactions and deaths. An FDA investigation later uncovered a heparin-like substance in some batches of the drug's active ingredient, which is made in China.

Baxter and its ingredient supplier, Scientific Protein Laboratories, have said the contamination occurred before the raw heparin reached them.

FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach added that the FDA is not investigating the motive, but would leave that to Chinese officials.

Baxter still is investigating how and why the contaminant was introduced into raw heparin ingredients, company spokeswoman Erin Gardiner said Tuesday.

FBI Fights New Curbs On Domestic Spying

The FBI is resisting legislation that would put more restrictions on domestic surveillance of Americans' private records, saying the agency already has tightened its rules to crack down on wrongful use of national security letters.

FBI General Counsel Valerie E. Caproni told a House panel that the agency has responded to abuses outlined in internal reports by tightening the requirements for issuing national security letters.

"In light of the FBI's tremendous progress in this regard, further legislative changes, including the measures envisioned by [Congress], would be neither necessary nor appropriate," Caproni testified to a Judiciary subcommittee.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are pushing legislation that would limit the FBI's ability to secretly collect reams of information on the bank, telephone, credit card and Internet accounts of private Americans involved in terrorism investigations.

VA Closes Ward After 4th Suicide

DALLAS -- The fourth suicide this year among mentally ill patients treated at the Dallas VA Medical Center has led the hospital to close its psychiatric ward to new patients, and investigators from the national Department of Veterans Affairs office are expected to arrive next week to assess safety. Joseph Dalpiaz, director of the VA North Texas Health Care System, ordered the shutdown after a man hanged himself April 4.

Suspicious Home Blast Kills One

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A powerful explosion blew the top off a house where a registered sex offender described as acting paranoid had rented a room and appeared to have been making bombs, deputies said. Investigators found a body in the rubble but did not release details, Pierce County sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer said.

-- From News Services

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