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Bayer blood scandal

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Bayer blood scandal

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto (CanStockPhoto.com)

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto (CanStockPhoto.com)

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto (CanStockPhoto.com)

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto (CanStockPhoto.com)

David Disney, Lode Writer

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Bayer is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, producing everything from Aleve to Coppertone. Being so large and having so many products must mean they have incredible quality control methods. If they were to ever release tainted meds I’m sure we’d all know about it… right?

Well, they certainly do have lots of quality assurance steps in place, but they are not perfect. In fact, they aren’t even innocent. For example, Hemophilia is a condition that inhibits blood clotting in patients. It is genetic and can’t necessarily be cured; however, it can be treated. Nowadays this treatment is mostly made in a lab without the need for human blood donation.

That was not always the case, however. In the past, human blood was used in the production of this clotting factor. Bayer, along with a list of other pharma companies, sold HIV and hepatitis C infected clotting agent to thousands of people across the globe; America alone had thousands of cases as a result.

Concerns arose in the early 1980s and by 1983 the CDC put out a warning on blood clotting products for hemophiliacs. This prompted drug companies like Cutter (a laboratory owned by Bayer) to begin heat treating their products to combat the spread of bloodborne illnesses like HIV.

That’s it, safe medicine can be made now so the crisis has ended… right? Not quite. There were still large supplies of unsafe medicine in stock. Not wanting to lose profit they sold this knowingly dangerous product overseas in places like Europe and Asia. The number of people infected overseas as a result is unknown, but at least one hundred cases of hemophiliacs contacting HIV after using Bayer’s tainted stock were reported from Hong Kong and Taiwan alone.

Bayer and similarly involved companies have paid over 600 million dollars to victims over 15 years as a result of this event. What is the main takeaway from this though? The world we live in is complex. I am certainly no doctor or lawyer, but from what I can tell we are all pretty much at the will of companies like Bayer. The vast majority of the products we use are made by a handful of huge mega-corporations. The upside is that we can get everything from lifesaving medicines to shoes with relative ease. The downside is that we must be wary because behind every smiling advertisement for some allergy medication is a huge company that really only cares about your wallet.

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Bayer blood scandal