Canadian Red Cross Pleads Guilty to Distributing HIV-, Hepatitis C-Contaminated Blood in 1980s
The Canadian Red Cross Society on Monday pleaded guilty and publicly apologized for distributing blood and blood products contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C to thousands of Canadians in the 1980s, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/30). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in November 2002 filed 32 charges against four doctors, Armour Pharmaceutical and the Canadian Red Cross in relation to the tainted-blood scandal of the 1980s, during which nearly 2,000 people contracted HIV and an estimated 20,000 people contracted hepatitis C from contaminated blood and blood products (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/10/02). Federal prosecutors dropped criminal charges against the Red Cross, including criminal negligence and common nuisance, in exchange for the guilty plea and apology. "(The) Canadian Red Cross Society is deeply sorry for the injury and death, ... for the suffering caused to families and loved ones of those who were harmed," Canadian Red Cross Secretary-General Pierre Duplessis said in a statement (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/30). Under the plea agreement -- which has not been approved by a judge -- the Canadian Red Cross will pay up to about $4,000 for violating Canada's Food and Drugs Act and an additional approximately $1.2 million for medical research and scholarships for victims' families, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Kilpatrick/Freeze, Globe and Mail, 5/31). The Canadian Red Cross already has paid about $55 million to victims through a separate fund, according to the AP/Sun. Charges against the four doctors and Armour are still awaiting trial (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 5/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.