CONTAMINATION of blood supplies has prompted the nationwide recall of a blood product routinely used in the treatment of intensive care patients.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced last night the recall from all hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore of some batches of human albumin, the main protein in plasma, made before January 25.
The recall follows a finding by blood products giant CSL on Wednesday that the albumin was contaminated with a coolant, ethylene glycol, after an equipment failure.
Melbourne-based CSL had informed the TGA the levels of contamination detected were "very low and that, based on projections of the highest possible amounts administered and available toxicological data, adverse clinical effects appear unlikely to occur".
CSL had advised the TGA that so far, it had not found evidence that those receiving the albumin had suffered ill effects.
Any poisoning due to ethylene glycol would almost certainly have immediate effects, CSL says. However, the regulator advised doctors and nurses to carefully consider the clinical need for albumin usage.
In the meantime, the TGA is "quarantining" CSL albumin supplies from further use while an assessment is made.
CSL was continuing further tests "to quantify the levels of contamination and the extent of the batches affected". As a precaution, the TGA had put arrangements in place to quarantine stocks held by hospitals , the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and CSL.
Advice by the TGA last night on the effect of ethylene glycol said ingestion could lead to acute renal failure and symptoms consistent with alcohol intoxication.
The blood service would increase manufacture of clinical fresh frozen plasma to meet any extra demand, the TGA said.