The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ordered $241 million of cadaver tissue and other material derived from human and animal bodies in the last three years, some of it from vendors warned by federal regulators about contamination in their supply chain.
About $4.7 million of the VA purchases came from Alachua, Florida-based RTI Surgical Inc. (RTIX) and the nonprofit Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, of Edison, New Jersey, according to data obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The VA ordered human tissue from the two suppliers after they were warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety deficiencies -- RTI for contaminated products and processing facilities, and Musculoskeletal Transplant for distributing tissue from tainted donor bodies, according to federal contracting data compiled by Bloomberg.
The suppliers said they have addressed the problems, which weren’t tied to human harms.
The disclosures come as Congress and veterans’ advocates are pressing the VA about whether it tracks body parts and other implants used to treat veterans well enough to warn patients of potential dangers. In September 2012, the VA shelved a system it was building to help alert patients when the parts are recalled. Some of the VA’s buying was made outside standardized purchasing contracts without required justifications, the Government Accountability Office said earlier this month.
“It’s a big accident waiting to happen,” said Rick Weidman, executive director for government affairs with the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Vietnam Veterans of America.