April 26, 2006
A Chinese pharmaceutical company that made a blood-based hemophilia product in use during the 1990s today refused to respond to patients and relatives who allege the product was HIV-contaminated.
Family members have repeatedly met with officials from the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products (SIBP), which has refused to take responsibility or provide compensation for the infections. Several relatives have filed suit in local courts, though none has received a settlement. Local officials frequently protect industries that are prime contributors to the tax base.
"I have no comment on this at the moment," Li Wanhua, spokesperson for SIBP, told the Associated Press in a brief telephone interview.
"Not only did they not pull the drug when they were supposed to, no one even told the users they were at risk of getting HIV/AIDS," said Yin Ce, whose 15-year-old son has tested positive for HIV. Relatives believe 123 Chinese hemophiliacs became infected by contaminated SIBP products.
The Health Ministry and Shanghai's Health Bureau did not respond to faxed questions about the relatives' allegations. Last week, city police officers broke up a news conference held by HIV-positive claimants and relatives, and at least one reporter who spoke with them was detained.
HIV-contaminated hemophilia products were the basis of similar cases in the United States, Japan and other countries, and often have led to large settlements from drug companies.