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International News

Police File Criminal Charges Decades After Canadian Tainted-Blood Scandal

November 21, 2002

Police filed charges Wednesday in a tainted blood scandal that infected thousands of people in Canada with HIV and hepatitis C. The Canadian Red Cross, four doctors and an American pharmaceutical company were all charged after a five-year investigation by a Royal Canadian Mounted Police task force. About 1,200 people were infected with HIV and thousands more contracted hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood and blood products in the 1970s and 1980s, some allegedly from US prison inmates. While no figures exist on the number of victims who died, organizations involved say there were many deaths. CRC began screening donors for HIV in 1985 and for hepatitis C in 1990.

CRC and its former director of its blood transfusion service, Dr. Roger Perrault, were accused of not screening out blood donors who might have had HIV. The charges include criminal negligence causing bodily harm, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence, and common nuisance by endangering the public, which is punishable by up to two years.

CRC faces six common nuisance charges, and Perrault faces three counts of criminal negligence and seven of common nuisance. Armour Pharmaceutical Co. of Bridgewater, N.J., was charged with criminal negligence and common nuisance, along with failing to tell the Canadian government of problems with the blood products. Canadian Hemophiliac Society President Tom Alloway said Armour’s blood products were distributed in Canada after being withdrawn in the United States.

Criminal negligence charges were also filed against former Armour Vice President Michael Rodell, and former government health officials John Furesz and Wark Boucher. All four doctors and Armour also were accused of allowing Armour’s HIV-infected blood-clotting product to be given to hemophiliacs. The task force was formed in 1997 after a judge’s report on Canada’s blood system criticized CRC and the federal government for problems that allowed the tainted blood scandal to occur. Lawsuits and compensation packages involving CRC, the federal and provincial governments, include the creation of a $711 million (US $450 million) government fund for those infected.

Back to other CDC news for November 21, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
11.20.2002; Tom Cohen

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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