The Ministry of Health is confident that contaminated batches of albumin, a blood product used in special medical circumstances, are not present in New Zealand.

The concern was raised after Australian blood supplier CSL Biotherapies detected traces of ethylene glycol in a number of batches of albumin.

Ministry of Health senior media advisor Kevin McCarthy said there was a failure in a tank used to regulate the temperature of albumin during the manufacturing process.

This allowed ethylene glycol, used in the casing of the tank, to leak into the albumin.
The fault was thought to have occurred between December last year and January 25, when the leak was discovered.

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Mr McCarthy said he was "pretty confident it hasn't affected New Zealand''.

The Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Don Mackie, said new stocks of albumin produced after the incident will arrive in New Zealand later this evening and will be distributed to hospitals as soon as possible.

In Australia, CSL Biotherapies are currently testing their products to determine the level of contamination and the number batches affected.

Albumin is the main protein in blood plasma and is used in highly-specialised circumstances such as intensive care.