Doctors acquitted on charges of infecting thousands with HIV
Monday morning in Alberta,. Canada and a judge acquits four doctors, a New Jersey company and a former Red Cross official of criminal charges regarding a tainted blood scandal in the 1990’s.
Because of improper screening, over 20,000 Canadians were infected with the Hepatitis C and HIV virus from a controversial medical blood product.
The charges brought stated that Dr. Roger Perrault, Dr. John Furesz, Dr. Donald Boucher, and Dr. Michael Rodel had distributed an HIV infected blood clotting agent known as ‘Factorate’ to hemophilia patients through the Canadian Red Cross.
The products were produced by New Jersey-based Armour Pharmaceutical Co., which was also listed as a defendant in the criminal case.
The tainted blood was distributed to thousands of patients and resulted in a major health care crisis when large members of the population began testing positive for HIV and Hep C.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto conceded that that while there appeared to be some negligence on the part of the defendants, the conduct did amount to the wanton and reckless disregard standard that would be necessary to find them guilty.
In her summation, Judge Benotto concluded: “The events here were tragic. However, to assign blame where none exists is to compound the tragedy.”
Two years ago, the Canadian Red Cross pled guilty to violating the Food and Drug Regulation Act and improper blood screening. The government paid over 1 billion dollars in damages to victims who had contracted the diseases and their families.
Some victims have made statements to the press that the settlement was not enough and punishment should have been handed down against the defendants since evidence was presented that the accused were aware that the product could be potentially dangerous and still did not pull it from the market.
Criminal charges are still pending against the defendants for improperly screening donors who could possibly be carrying the HIV virus.
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