updated 3/19/2008 11:44:48 AM ET 2008-03-19T15:44:48

U.S. health regulators have identified the contaminant found in Baxter International's blood thinner heparin, which may be to blame for 19 deaths.

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The Food and Drug Administration says a chemical compound called oversulfated chondroitin sulfate has been found in samples of the drug tied to death and allergic reactions.

FDA staff say the chemical comes from a family similar to heparin, but that it is not approved in the U.S. or abroad as a medical treatment.

FDA drug center director Janet Woodcocks says the agency can't rule whether it was deliberately introduced into the product, but is 99 percent sure it's not a natural component.

Baxter is based in Deerfield, Ill.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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