Platelet E-News – March 17, 2006


  • Platelet Donation Limits Rejected
  • IVIG Availability
  • Liquid Formulation of WinRho SDF® Available
  • Bird Flu: The Threat and The Panic
  • New NHLBI Initiative
  • Antibiotic Linked to Blood-Sugar Problems
  • Exercise May Help Stave Off Dementia
  • Guidelines For Prepared Produce From FDA



A federal proposal to limit personal donations of platelets is headed back to the drawing board after government advisers said it would drastically cut the nation's supply. Platelets are chronically scarce, because they last just five days after they're donated. As part of an overhaul of donation guidelines, the Food and Drug Administration had proposed limiting how many platelets someone could donate each year to about 24 pints.

Boston Globe, "Panel rejects plan for platelet donation limits", Saturday, March 13, 2006, page A2.

(Note: Platelet donation changes, if they were approved, would not have a major effect on people with ITP since infused platelets are used infrequently in the treatment of this disease)


The present shortage of IVIG results from many factors including the withdrawal of several well known brands from the market. The Red Cross and ZLB Bioplasma announced earlier last year that they would discontinue production of IVIg products. And in January 2006, after introducing its next generation products last year, Baxter announced that it will discontinue one of its IVIG products by January 2007. IgG America, a home infusion company outside Baltimore reported in its Newsletter that it anticipates more changes in product.

IgG Today, IgG America-Newsletter, March 2006.
The Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association publishes up-to-date information on IVIg availability. See:


The liquid formulation of WinRho SDF is now available. Previously, it has been available only in a freeze dried formulation. This treatment is licensed in the USA, Canada, and Europe to treat ITP and prevent Rh isoimmunization. Researchers reported that both formulations were well tolerated and the study demonstrated that the liquid formulation was bioequivalent to the freeze-dried formulation in both intravenously (IV) and intramuscular (IM)


Fear of avian or bird flu pandemic has been on the rise in the popular media since the end of last year when the number of deaths from the disease in Europe and Asia approached 100. While a worst case scenario received a great deal of publicity, discussion of more likely scenarios was limited to more technical and less widely read publications. In spite of continuing concerns, nearly all of the 161 human cases of avian flu thus far have resulted from direct exposure to wild or domestic infected birds. While recent studies have identified mutations in the recent samples compared to earlier ones, this is not cause for the heightened alarm seen in some quarters. Robert Webster of St. Jude Children’s Hospital says, “This is an important observation and a worrying one that the virus is more able to associate with human receptors and human cells.” But he adds, “public health officials must adopt a wait and see approach, acting only when human-to-human transmissions start to appear.” Viruses mutate frequently but mutations have to evolve and adapt together, affecting transmissibility and virulence in complex ways. The final answer isn’t in yet but a pandemic is no sure thing.

P. Basu, “Panic Over Bird Flu Pandemic Premature, Experts Say”, Nature Medicine, March 2006, vol 12, no 3, p 258.


“NHLBI (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute) recently released a new initiative: RFA-HL-06-012--Genome-Wide Association Studies to Identify Genetic Components that Relate to Heart, Lung, and Blood Disorders The RFA will support investigators to implement innovative strategies for genome-wide association studies in existing population, cohort, clinical, and family studies. Twenty million dollars will be awarded over three years.”

ASH Newslink March 2006


Patients taking Tequin, an antibiotic made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, face a sharply higher risk of developing serious blood-sugar problems; this according to two studies that examined the medical histories of 1.4 million elderly Canadians. A company spokesman indicated that the findings were consistent with the company’s own research which prompted the company to warn healthcare providers not to prescribe Tequin for diabetics and to monitor more closely other patients who take the drug.

R. Tomsho, “Antibiotic Linked to Treatments for Blood-Sugar”, WSJ, March 2, 2006, p D2.
(Note: Prednisone can elevate blood sugar levels as well)


In a study of 1740 individuals over 65 over a six year period 158 developed dementia, including 107 cases or Alzheimer’s. The findings: those who exercised at least 15 minutes three or more times a week at the beginning of the study were 32 percent less likely to have any type of dementia and 31 percent less likely to have Alzheimer’s, than those who exercised less often. Exercise data considered the frequency of exercise but not the intensity and came from records kept by the participants.

L. Searing, “Quick Study”, Washington Post, January 31, 2006, p F6.
Find the study at:


Fresh cut fruits and vegetables are being identified increasingly as the source of outbreaks of illness by the FDA. Processing increases the risk of bacterial contamination and growth because it breaks protective natural barriers. Recent voluntary recommendations call on processors of fresh produce to use safer procedures. The report can be found at:
J. Zhang, “FDA Issues Guidelines for Prepared Produce”, Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2006, p. D1

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