The Canadian Red Cross pleaded guilty to distributing blood tainted with HIV and hepatitis C in a health disaster that has killed more than 3,000 people.
The organization, which distributed the blood in the 1980s, paid a fine of $4,000 for causing more than 1,000 Canadians to contract blood-borne HIV and as many as 20,000 to become infected with hepatitis C.
As part of the plea deal yesterday, Canadian Red Cross Secretary General Dr. Pierre Duplessis issued a public apology via videotape that was played in the courtroom to survivors of the victims.
“[The] Canadian Red Cross Society is deeply sorry for the injury and death … for the suffering caused to families and loved ones of those who were harmed,” said Duplessis.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Bill Clinton was at the center of a scandal in Arkansas in the 1980s involving the sale of AIDS-tainted blood to Canada, which was distributed through the Red Cross.
As governor of Arkansas, Clinton awarded a contract to Health Management Associates to provide medical care to the state’s prisoners. The president of the company was a long-time friend and political ally of Clinton and later was appointed by him to the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. Later, he was among the senior members of Clinton’s 1990 gubernatorial re-election team.
The death toll from the tainted blood has grown since the figure of 3,000 was calculated in 1997, but recent estimates are not available, the Associated Press reported.
Duplessis said the organization accepted responsibility for “having distributed harmful products for those that rely on us for their health.”
Prosecutors dropped criminal charges, including criminal negligence and common nuisance.
The Canadian Red Cross already has paid victims $55 million in a separate fund. Along with the fine, the charity will set aside $1.2 million for scholarships for family members of victims.
The Arkansas connection to Canada’s blood scandal began with a deal Health Management Associates struck with the state allowing collection and sale of prisoners’ blood in addition to treatment.
Because of the exploding AIDS crisis, U.S. regulations did not permit the sale of prisoners’ blood within the country.
But HMA found a willing buyer in Montreal, which brokered a deal with Connaught, a Toronto blood-fractionator, which didn’t know the source of the supplies.
Sales continued until 1983, when HMA revealed that some of the plasma might be contaminated with the AIDS virus and hepatitis. The blood was also marketed overseas.
Michael Galster, who conducted orthopedic clinics in the Arkansas prison system during the period the blood was collected, charged HMA officials knew the blood was tainted as they sold it to Canada and a half-dozen other foreign countries. He also alleged Clinton knew of the scheme and likely benefited from it financially.