Bayer’s HIV Problems

In International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Laws & Regulation, US Politics on June 22, 2006 at 2:47 pm

From Reuters yesterday:

Bayer AG on Wednesday (June 21, 2006) said U.S. regulators approved its fully automated test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The German healthcare company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the test, called EHIV, which works by detecting antibodies to the virus. It is to be used on Bayer's ADVIA Centaur Immunoassay System. 

Lest we forget Bayer's shameful history relating to this disease, watch a very brief and very frightening MSNBC piece on Bayer's awful indiscretions.  Perhaps, at the very least, Bayer should offer millions of these automated tests to the nations which it knowingly and intentionally dumped the HIV virus on.

Here is more about that story from a May 2003 story in a leading French paper:

A division of the pharmaceutical giant Bayer in the 1980s sold a medicine to Asia and Latin America that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS while it was selling a new, safer product in the west, The New York Times alleged Thursday…. The company also sought to save money by honoring several fixed-price contracts with the old product, which was cheaper to produce than the new, safer blood-clotting medicine, the daily said other company records suggest.

"These are the most incriminating internal pharmaceutical industry documents I have ever seen," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, who as director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group has been investigating the industry's practices for three decades.

In a statement to the daily, Bayer said Cutter had "behaved responsibly, ethically and humanely" in selling the old product overseas, adding that it did so because some customers doubted the new drug's effectiveness, because some countries were slow to approve its sale and because a shortage of plasma hindered mass production of the new medicine…

The New York Times said it was practically impossible to determine how many hemophiliacs in Latin America and Asia were affected by the company's sale of Factor VIII concentrate after February 1984 when the new product came out.

However, in Hong Kong and Taiwan alone, more than 100 hemophiliacs were infected with the HIV virus after using Factor VIII, and many since have died, according to records and interviews obtained by the paper.

Cutter also continued to sell the older product after February 1984 in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Argentina, the daily alleged….

The Cutter documents were produced in connection with lawsuits filed by American hemophiliacs, which had gone largely unnoticed until the daily said it began asking about them.

In the United States, according to the Times, thousands of hemophiliacs were infected with AIDS from contaminated blood-clotting medicine.


  1. Anyone who is interested in this topic should also check out the movie the Constant Gardener. It’s a fictional take on what pharmaceutical companies and foreign governments, in this case the UK, have done with HIV and AIDS in Africa. Even though it’s fictional, it brings up a lot of things that truly go on, as shown in Keeley’s post above.

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