January 27

Bayer Settles Multi-Million With Hemophiliacs Over HIV Tainted Blood

The Coalition Against Bayer pharmaceuticals (CBG) announces that Bayer and Baxter settled a mulit-million dollar compensation suit with hemophiliacs in 22 countries who were victims, infected with HIV or hepatitis C having been infused with tainted blood plasma products in the 1980s.

In 2003, The New York Times reported that a division of Bayer pharmaceutical knowingly continued to sell its AIDS infected blood product to countries in Asia and Latin America to get rid of inventory: "the company hoped to preserve the profit margin from ‘several large fixed-price contracts." 

The Bayer-Baxter settlement prohibits the victims and their lawyers from speaking about the arrangement. Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition (CBG) welcomes the settlement, but asks: “why is BAYER concealing the payments?” 

 "Why are the media not able to report on this precedent? It is outrageous that the companies who knowingly infected thousands of haemophiliacs are blackmailing the victims not to talk about this important development!”

 Mr. Mimkes is also concerned that only Japanese victims will be reasonably compensated: Japanese hemophiliacs will receive $450,000 each plus a monthly pension.  But the victims in other countries did not fare as well.

An important aspect of this case–which the Times called "one of the worst drug-related medical disasters in history"–is the culpability of the FDA:

 The Times reported: "In May of 1985, believing that the companies had broken a voluntary agreement to withdraw the old medicine from the market, the Food and Drug Administration’s regulator of blood products, Dr. Harry M. Meyer Jr., asked that the issue be ”quietly solved without alerting the Congress, the medical community and the public.”

 Today’s New York Times reports that illegal levels of antibiotics have been found in hundreds of dairy cows and those antibiotics may be contaminating the milk supply and other dairy products.  The FDA had announced that testing of milk would begin this month. 

However, in response to industry’s protests against testing their milk–"the testing program could lead to costly recalls"–the FDA retreated, allowing potentially antibiotic-laced milk to be sold to US consumers.

Once again, when push came to shove, the FDA sacrificed the safety and health of the American public. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/business/26milk.html  


 Vera Hassner Sharav

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