Contaminated Blood Given to Hemophiliacs
BLOOD has become a two-billion-dollar-a-year business. The pursuit of profits from it has resulted in a gigantic tragedy in France. HIV-contaminated blood caused the death of 250 hemophiliacs in AIDS-related illnesses, with hundreds more infected.—The Boston Globe, October 28, 1992, page 4.
An “unholy alliance” of medical negligence and commercial greed led to the death of some 400 German hemophiliacs, with at least 2,000 additional ones infected with HIV-contaminated blood.—Guardian Weekly, August 22, 1993, page 7.
Canada had its own blood scandal. It is estimated that more than 700 Canadian hemophiliacs were treated with HIV-infected blood. The government was warned in July 1984 that the Red Cross was distributing AIDS-contaminated blood to Canadian hemophiliacs, but the contaminated blood products were not withdrawn from the market until a year later, August 1985.—The Globe and Mail, July 22, 1993, page A21, and The Medical Post, March 30, 1993, page 26.
From Madrid, Spain, on April 21, 1993, a Reuters dispatch said that Spain would pay compensation to 1,147 hemophiliacs infected with the AIDS virus through blood and plasma transfusions in the 1980’s, according to the Health Ministry. More than 400 have already contracted AIDS and died.—The New York Times, April 22, 1993, page A13.
Toward the end of 1982, the Centers for Disease Control began warning the NHF (National Hemophilia Foundation) of the dangers of the blood clotting factor VIII—one transfusion of it could be a concentrate from 20,000 blood donors, only one of which needs to have AIDS to contaminate the injection. A stronger warning was issued in March 1983, but in May of that year, NHF sent out a bulletin headlined “NHF Urges Clotting Factor Use Be Maintained.” By then the death toll was rising, and thousands were still being put at risk. This clotting factor was not essential to the survival of hemophiliacs; there were other options for treatment. Thousands of lives could have been saved. By 1985, drug companies had found that by heating the factor, it was made safe. Even then, inventoried stocks of unheated factor were still being marketed.—Dateline NBC, December 14, 1993.
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CDC, Atlanta, Ga.