Tainted heparin lawsuit

May 7, 2008 3:56:42 PM PDT
As the Food and Drug Administration continues to investigate contaminated heparin, families are starting to file wrongful death lawsuits.

Joyce Williams describes her husband Freddie James Sr. as a quiet, family man. She says he was slowly killed by contaminated heparin. "I'm angry and I'm hurt and I'm outraged," she said.

Williams lives in Missouri but spoke to Action News over the phone with her lawyer Jeffrey Killino in Philadelphia. They're suing Tyco Healthcare, now called Covidien, the maker of the Heparin Williams was using. Killino says unlike other drug-companies Tyco waited too long to recall the drug after finding out it was tainted.

"Baxter was recalling from January 17th, Tyco waited 70 days later on March 28th, the exact same day that Mr. Williams died," Killino said.

Williams was using Heparin flushes to keep an IV-line open for antibiotics. He was being treated for pneumonia. Killino says the blood thinner in some of those syringes was contaminated. The FDA says bad Heparin is now linked to 81 deaths. Inspectors found contaminated ingredients at a plant in China.

Killino said that plant supplies Tyco. "If Tyco had acted sooner, been more proactive to find out what was wrong with the heparin supply, looking up the chain, they would have been able to prevent this," he said.

A spokesperson for Covidien released this statement to Action News: "We do not comment on pending litigation. We are working closely with the FDA and our customers and our supplier to address heparin supply issues."

Now it may be up to a jury to decide if the bad heparin killed Mr. Williams and if the company should pay. "It just hurts that?someone... can do something like this and take our loved ones away from us," Williams said.

More lawsuits are expected against Covidien. Lawsuits against other Heparin-makers, such as Baxter, have also been filed.