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Bayer Sued By Hemophiliacs
September 20, 2003

Thousands of hemophiliacs filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against Bayer Corp. and several other companies, claiming they knowingly sold blood contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges the companies conspired to sell blood-clotting products that were manufactured using blood from sick, high-risk donors. It also alleges the companies continued distributing them abroad in 1984 and 1985, after they stopped selling them in the United States because of the known risk of HIV and hepatitis transmission.

Monday's suit was filed on behalf foreigners who received the drug, said attorney Robert Nelson.

"This is a worldwide tragedy," Nelson said. "Thousands of hemophiliacs have unnecessarily died from AIDS and many thousands more are infected with HIV or hepatitis C."

Bayer Corp. and Baxter Healthcare Corp., also named in the lawsuit, did not immediately return calls seeking comment after business hours Monday.

The medicine, called Factor VIII concentrate, can stop or prevent potentially fatal bleeding in people with hemophilia.

Early in the AIDS epidemic, the medicine was commonly made using mingled plasma from 10,000 or more donors. Because at the time there was not yet a screening test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, thousands of hemophiliacs were infected.

But the lawsuit alleges there were precautions Bayer and the others could have taken such as screening donors or using volunteers, a proven less-risky method, but refused.

Story Continued @ SOURCE



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