Counterfeit Heparin (alas, again fraud in China) killed 62 - Americans. I've not seen data on foreign deaths. The latest via ABC:
... After reviewing adverse events back to January 2007, FDA said Tuesday it uncovered 103 reports of patients who died while taking heparin.
Of those deaths, 62 involved allergic reactions or hypotension, a type of dangerously low blood pressure. Those are the same side effects that caused Baxter's to pull all U.S. heparin injections from the market by February...
America's adverse event monitoring system is very unlikely to be complete. I would not be surprised if the true Heparin associated death rate were 2-3 times as high. Anaphylactic reactions are not universally fatal, so I suspect that for every death there might be ten people who were injured, some of who will not fully recover. Some will have been weakened at a critical point, and then died of other causes.
So let's make a wild guess, and estimate that 2,000 to 3,000 Americans were seriously injured or killed by a fraudulent version of an extensively used medication. Since up to 10% of our Heparin supply was affected by the fraud, that's not too shocking. In fact there's reason to suspect the practice started before January 2007, so the total could be higher.
But that's only one drug. And that's only the US. If we include all the wealthy nations of the earth (it's a cheap widely used drug but the most common uses are for expensive treatments) we can guess that 5,000 to 30,000 people have died or been badly injured as a result of fraudulent medications or fraudulent food practices over the past 2-3 years.
That's a fair total, so the curious thing in this affair is the public silence. There's a great deal of unmerited anxiety about immunizations, but very little about fraud and our food and medication supply.
So, why is America silent? Is this a variant of the social phenomena that leads to complacency about climate change?
I don't think so. Climate change complacency is relatively easy to understand -- for many Americans a warmer climate is seen as a net plus, and even some plausible experts feel our only hope is a technological breakthrough in either energy production or carbon sequestration.
This feels different. My best guess is a kind of learned helplessness, the result of 12 years of GOP destruction of government* and the obvious failure of Libertarian dreams of emergent market-driven auto-regulation.
If I'm right, matters will only improve if McCain loses the presidency and both the House and Senate stay Democrat. I don't see any other configuration that will allow the rebuilding of our government.
* 8 years of Bush, and during Clinton's last term the House and Senate were both GOP. It's much easier to destroy than to create or maintain, so control of either the presidency or the legislature is sufficient to destroy government.