Bayer Sold High-Risk HIV Med For Year+

In the early 80s, German drug maker Bayer AG created a product called Factor VIII, a blood-clotting product made from plasma. 

The first batches were created before there was an HIV screening test, and infected thousands of hemophiliacs.  (Bayer has since settled 15 years of lawsuits for $600 Million) A second, heat-treated version was released, designed to kill the HIV virus.  But Bayer division Cutter Biological continued selling old stock to Latin America and Asia for more than a year!  Over 100,000 vials were shipped, worth more than $4 million.

In late 1984, as Hong Kong hemophiliacs began testing positive for HIV, some doctors wondered whether Cutter was sending “AIDS-tainted” medicine into less-developed nations.

But the company assured its distributor that the unheated product posed “no severe hazard” and was the “same fine product we have supplied for years.”


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