Bayer Says It Settled Decades-Old HIV-Tainted Blood Cases

Last Updated Aug 3, 2009 4:31 PM EDT

Bayer says it has entered into a settlement with "the vast majority" of plaintiffs in a decades-old piece of litigation brought by hemophiliacs who were infected with HIV-tainted blood transfusions in the 1980s.

Hemophiliacs lack the clotting factor in normal blood that stops a person bleeding to death when cut. They take Factor VIII transfusions to ensure that doesn't happen. Those transfusions are developed from donated blood. Thousands contracted HIV and hepatitis C virus from those transfusions, and died.

The suit claimed that three companies, Alpha, Baxter and Bayer's Cutter Biological unit:
... recruited and paid donors from high risk populations, including prisoners, intravenous drug users, and blood centers with predominantly homosexual donors, to obtain blood plasma used for the production of Factor VIII and IX.
Plaintiffs allege that these companies failed to exclude donors, as mandated by federal law, with a history of viral hepatitis. Such testing could have substantially reduced the likelihood of plasma containing HIV and/or HCV entering plasma pools.
It is not known how much the settlement is for. Bayer said in its Q2 disclosure:
Bayer and its three co-defendants have entered into an agreement with two U.S. law firms representing the vast majority of plaintiffs in the U.S. Federal Multidistrict Factor Concentrates litigation. The agreement is subject to conditions that must be satisfied before the settlement can be completed, including broad acceptance of, and overall participation in, the settlement by the group of plaintiffs represented by these firms. While the aim of the agreement is to bring decades of litigation to an end, Bayer will continue to vigorously defend any claims that are not included in the resolution process.

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