Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Shocking Revelation: Pharmaceutical Giants Sold HIV-Infected Treatment to NHS

The Infected Blood Inquiry is set to reveal a disturbing truth: pharmaceutical companies knowingly sold an HIV-infected treatment to the NHS, potentially exposing thousands to the deadly virus.

Internal documents from American pharmaceutical giants have surfaced, revealing that they were aware their “wonder drug” made from human plasma could transmit HIV to patients. Despite this knowledge, they continued to supply the NHS with the contaminated treatment.

During the 1970s and 80s, approximately 1,250 people in the UK contracted HIV, and a further 5,000 contracted hepatitis C from Factor VIII, a treatment for the bleeding disorder haemophilia.

The Infected Blood Inquiry, scheduled to release its findings later this month, will shed light on the mistakes that allowed HIV and hepatitis C-contaminated Factor VIII to be prescribed to patients on the NHS.

Survivors who have been seeking justice for four decades expect the final report on May 20 to be highly critical of Factor VIII manufacturers, successive governments, and doctors. The report will also address how up to 26,800 people contracted hepatitis C from blood transfusions.

Despite early warnings in the United States in July 1982, the pharmaceutical companies continued to distribute the contaminated Factor VIII. In December 1982, Bayer’s Cutter Laboratories discovered that chimpanzees developed AIDS-like symptoms after being treated with Factor VIII, but the company chose not to warn patients about the risks.

Even after developing a safer, heat-treated version without viruses in February 1984, Bayer continued to sell the HIV and hepatitis C-contaminated Factor VIII until August 1985. Shockingly, the UK continued to prescribe this dangerous version until late 1985 and never recalled it from hospitals.

In one instance, Cutter Laboratories rejected the idea of recalling its infected Factor VIII from Asian countries in 1984, fearing it would cost them up to $2 million in sales. A year later, despite knowing the risks, the company decided to dump the infected product in countries including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Argentina, citing that “hysteria over AIDS could reduce sales by as much as $400,000.”

Armour Pharmaceuticals, owned by Revlon Healthcare, also suppressed evidence from 1985 to 1986 that HIV had been discovered in its “safe” version of Factor VIII, which had been heat-treated to kill viruses. Six patients in the UK contracted HIV from this supposedly safe version of Factor VIII.

Dr. Alfred Prince, a researcher at the New York Blood Center, found traces of HIV in Armour’s heat-treated Factor VIII in October 1985. Despite this discovery, the company chose to keep the information secret from the US Food and Drug Administration and continued to sell the high-risk Factor VIII.

The delay in reacting to news that patients in the UK and Holland had contracted HIV was explained by Christopher Bishop, former marketing manager and managing director of Armour in the UK, as an attempt to prevent patients from panicking. However, this delay contributed to further infections.

Before antiretroviral treatments for HIV became available in the mid-1990s, a diagnosis was often seen as a death sentence. The stigma associated with HIV led to people losing their jobs, struggling to obtain mortgages, and being publicly attacked.

The pharmaceutical companies involved have expressed regret for the suffering caused. A spokesman for Bayer stated they are cooperating with the Infected Blood Inquiry and expressed deep sorrow for the situation. Similarly, CSL Behring, which acquired Armour’s manufacturing facilities in 2004, declined to comment on historical activities.

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