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
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.