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New Zealand - Legal Action

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    Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has been linked to legal action in New Zealand arising from the contraction of hepatitis C by victims of contaminated blood products. It was recently revealed contaminated blood was distributed in Australia during the early 1990s. Page 3.

    ABC Online Tue, Jul 2 2002 9:13 PM AEST

    Health Dept to investigate contaminated blood claims

    The Federal Health Minister, Kay Patterson, has asked the Health Department to investigate revelations about potentially contaminated blood being used to make blood products in 1990.

    It has been revealed that the Red Cross Blood Bank made a decision to continue using blood with Hepatitis C antibodies in the belief that heat treatment would destroy the virus.

    Red Cross publicly announced at the time that it had been forced to destroy the blood, but it was writing to the donors and asking them to continue donating blood.

    Mr Patterson says she knew nothing about the claim until this morning.

    "I've contacted one of the senior officers in the department and requested that we have an investigation into that claim and until then I'm not going to make any further comment.

    "I only saw in the paper this morning the suggestion that there were some donors after 1990 who had Hep C, still giving donations," she said.

    Don't judge us on past

    The Red Cross blood products section says it is unfair to be judged on decisions made a decade ago on the basis of scientific knowledge available then.

    It has been revealed that an expert committee authorised the use of blood with hepatitis c antibodies for making blood products in the belief that heat used in processing would destroy the virus.

    Blood Donor and Products Committee chair Dr Tony Keller says the Red Cross believes it has traced the majority of people who may have been infected by the contaminated products.

    "We believe that it's unfair to be judged, with all the knowledge that has become available in the last 23 years and the massive amount of scientific information that has become available about the Hepatitis-C virus, to be judged on the decisions in 1990, when nobody knew what the test meant, nobody knew what Hepatitis-C was," Dr Keller said.

    Donated blood has been tested for the hepatitis c virus itself since June 2000.


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