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U.S. Doctor Appears in Canadian Court on Charges Linked to Tainted Blood

December 12, 2002

A U.S. doctor appeared in Canadian court, charged for his alleged role in a tainted blood supply that sickened thousands in the 1970s and 1980s. Dr. Michael Rodell, 70, spoke his name but said nothing more. He is charged with three counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and one count of common nuisance, punishable by up to two years in prison.

The Pennsylvania doctor was one of four charged last month in connection with the tainted blood. Rodell's former company, the US blood products firm Armour Pharmaceutical Co., was also charged. Rodell was vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the company, which supplied blood products to the Canadian Red Cross.

About 1,200 people contracted HIV and thousands more developed hepatitis C after transfusions of tainted blood and blood products. Some of the blood allegedly came from US prison inmates.

No figures exist on the actual number of deaths, but organizations involved say there were many. The Canadian Red Cross started screening blood donors for HIV in 1985, and for hepatitis C in 1990.

Canadian doctors John Furesz, Wark Boucher, and Roger Perrault also face charges. Perrault is the former head of blood transfusion at the Canadian Red Cross.

Rodell's lawyer, Earl Levy, said that a civil case would be more appropriate than criminal charges under the circumstances.

"I have serious reservations about the strong arm of the criminal law coming down on these doctors ... in the quest for some accountability," he said.

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Excerpted from:
Associated Press

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