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Dialysis product may be behind patient deaths

Nov 5, 2001 | CNN An international medical company said Monday its equipment may have played a role in the deaths of dozens of kidney dialysis patients in the United States and abroad.

Tests completed over the weekend point to a processing fluid used at a facility in Sweden during the manufacture of the disposable filters used during dialysis, Baxter International Inc. said in a written statement.

Further tests are being conducted on the filters, called dialyzers, the company said.

Health authorities have been investigating the deaths of more than 50 people who used Baxter dialyzers. Four of the fatalities deaths occurred in the United States -- two in Nebraska and two in Texas. The rest occurred in Europe.

The dialyzer functions as an artificial kidney. Blood waste particles are drawn into dialysis fluid through the dialyzer as the patient's blood moves through the dialysis machine.

Baxter, based in Deerfield, recalled three models of dialyzers last month. With the findings announced Monday, the company says it will permanently discontinue production of series A and AF dialyzers, even though Baxter said only about 10 percent of those models were manufactured at the Ronneby, Sweden, facility, using the faulty processing fluid.

"We are greatly saddened by the patient deaths, and I would like to extend my personal sympathies to family members of those patients," said Harry Jansen Kraemer Jr., Baxter's chairman and chief executive.

The company will take a fourth-quarter loss of up to $150 million, the release said, but it expects to meet sales growth predictions

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