Bayer Purposely Sold AIDS-contaminated Blood Around the World
Big Pharma should not be trusted blindly. Pharmaceutical companies have shown they are willing to put profits before people: lying about side effects, faking clinical trials to get drugs approved and even selling contaminated medicines. One such case of Big Pharma’s greed began in the early 1980s, and involved an emerging disease known as AIDS. Cutter Biological, a division of Bayer Corporation—that’s right, the company that makes your aspirin—discovered in 1983 that some of the blood plasma it was selling to hemophiliacs contained the AIDS virus. Baxter International, the second-largest manufacturer of blood products, discovered the same year that its blood plasma was also infected.
The contaminated product was Factor 8, a blood-clotting protein. Hemophiliacs are unable to produce Factor 8 on their own, which leads to excessive and unstoppable bleeding. Hemophiliacs need regular infusions of blood plasma to supplement Factor 8, or a minor cut can cause them to bleed to death. Baxter International and Bayer Corporation were the two largest manufacturers of Factor 8, and hemophiliacs in the US had no where else to turn to get this medicine.
The Center for Disease Control warned in 1983 that blood products like Factor 8 were infecting hemophiliacs with AIDS. An outbreak of AIDS among hemophiliac children in the US was traced straight back to Bayer’s Factor 8 product. Ryan White was diagnosed in 1984, at the age of 13, with HIV. Ryan was a hemophiliac who had taken contaminated Factor 8. He was one of 10,000 Americans, mostly children, who contracted HIV/AIDS after taking contaminated Factor 8 made by Bayer and Baxter.
Profits Before People
Documents later revealed that Bayer and Baxter made a practice of getting blood serum from high-risk groups of people. They put profits before people, taking blood from groups at a high-risk of having infectious diseases in order to save money. On top of this, Bayer and Baxter violated federal law by not testing the blood for diseases.
Taking Lives For Money
At the same time, Bayer and Baxter made a “voluntary agreement” with the FDA to stop selling the contaminated serum. Despite this, Bayer and Baxter continued to sell their remaining stocks of the contaminated Factor 8 to Asian and Latin American countries. When FDA regulators found out that Bayer and Baxter were still selling the AIDS-infected products, instead of filing criminal charges, they offered to help hush it up. In a meeting with Bayer and Baxter executives, Harry Meyer, the FDA’s chief regulator in charge of blood products, said he wanted to resolve the issue “quietly … without alerting Congress, the medical community and the public.”
Executives at Bayer and Baxter knew the blood plasma was contaminated yet they continued selling it across the world. The FDA, supposed to protect consumers from dangerous medicines, conspired with Bayer and Baxter to keep the public and Congress in the dark about the contaminated blood plasma. In a meeting with Bayer and Baxter executives, Harry Meyer, the FDA’s chief regulator in charge of blood products, said he wanted the crisis to be resolved “quietly … without alerting Congress, the medical community and the public.” Bayer and Baxter kept selling contaminated blood plasma and the FDA helped them cover up the facts. Harry Meyer, the man in charge of defending the public, told Big Pharma executives he wanted the matter dealt with “quickly and quietly.”
Nobody knows exactly how many people outside the US were infected by Bayer and Baxter’s contaminated blood plasma, but there was hell to pay. The leaders of health departments and drug company executives in Argentina, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Portugal and Singapore were sent to jail for negligence, while the real criminals—the FDA and Bayer and Baxter’s top executives—walked away. Despite the tens of thousands of people whose lives were cut short by this conspiracy, no criminal charges have been filed against Bayer, Baxter, the FDA or anyone else in the United States.
American hemophiliacs have been left on their own, forced to sue Bayer and Baxter in civil courts. The saddest part is that many hemophiliacs must still buy Factor 8 from the same companies—Bayer and Baxter—that infected and killed thousands of their fellow sufferers throughout the 80s and early 90s. They have no alternative, and can only hope the medicine they need to survive isn’t tainted or contaminated by Big Pharma, with the FDA turning a blind eye.