Infected Blood Inquiry

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No of entries selected: 6 of 711
The Lancet reports first UK case of AIDS in a homosexual.
Source: Haemophiliac HIV Litigation, Advice on Settlement Document, Appendix 1, Chronology, pp 56-58.
Type: Lancet Report
Location: UK
16 July
DHSS Had Early Awareness of Concerns over the Safety of American Factor VIII
In a DHSS letter of 16 July 1982, we read of an early awareness of research which fairly conclusively demonstrates that:

"....plasma taken from homosexual drug-takers contains a sort of virus which goes undetected when the plasma is tested because it is suppressed by the drugs. However, when used for Factor VIII, it becomes active again."

The DHSS letter states that information has been received from the American Bureau of Biologics (via NIBSC) indicating there may be considerable publicity in the next couple of weeks concerning the safety of American Factor VIII.

From the following comment, it appears the DHSS are complacent at this stage:

"In any case with our voluntary unpaid donor system we do not have the same problems as in the States where drug addicts are tempted to give blood simply for the money. However, about half of the Factor VIII bought from commercial companies is imported from the USA."

Note: In terms of knowledge in the United Kingdom, this is one of the earlier dates (16 July 1982) which demonstrates that the DHSS had advance "private" knowledge of the safety risks from US commercial factor VIII almost 10 months earlier than we previously thought. This DHSS letter went out 1 year prior to the infamous July 1983 CSM meeting (reported in the Guardian by Sarah Hall on Friday May 25, 2007).

This early knowledge by officials also pre-dates (by 2 months) our earliest known point of awareness of AIDS by the UKHCDO (which was in September 1982). We know that Dr Craske was tasked with looking into reports of the syndrome in 3 haemophiliacs from the United States.

Source: Link #1
Type: DOH FOI Documents
Location: UK
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13 September
UKHCDO - Dr Craske - Knowledge of US Haemophiliac AIDS Cases
In a Haemophilia Centre Directors' Organisation meeting in September 1982, there is not only knowledge of AIDS infecting haemophiliacs in the USA, but also, there is some understanding of the possible involvement of commercial blood products.

Dr Craske is tasked with looking into reports of the syndrome in 3 haemophiliacs from the United States. HCDO minutes state that: "It appeared that there was a remote possibility that commercial blood products had been involved."

Source: Link #1
Type: HCDO Minutes
Location: UK
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3 May
Dr Vaughan, ex Health Minister, Was Warned in 1981 of Danger of Contaminated Blood
In an Oral Question in Prime Minister's Question Time on Tuesday 3rd May 1983, Mr Race makes it clear that Dr Gerard Vaughan, former Minister for Health, was warned 2 years earlier, circa May 1981, of the danger of contaminated blood supplies from the USA:

Mr. Race: "As the House of Commons' favourite own-goal merchant, the Minister for Consumer Affairs, was warned two years ago by his own Department of the danger of contaminated blood supplies coming from the United States, will the Prime Minister rectify that deplorable and disgraceful mistake by immediately authorizing the necessary expenditure within the National Health Service to make Britain independent in its blood supplies?" (see first column, para 9.)

Note: This Oral Question reveals that Dr Gerard Vaughan, then Minister for Health, knew sometime in 1981, possibly from as early as May, of the threat of contaminated blood supplies which were being imported from the United States. This is one of the earliest warnings that we are aware of so far and we are astonished to learn of how early this awareness was, and that so little was done. Clearly, we are not being told everything.

Source: Additional source (see para 5)
Link #2
Type: Oral Answer, Prime Minister's Question Time. 3rd May 1983. Additional Source: Health and Social Services Journal, May 12, 1983. Article by Michael White. (see paragraph 5)
Location: UK
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13 July
Committee on Safety of Medicines - Biologicals Sub-Committee
The Biologicals Sub-Committee of CSM recommends that very little is done about the threat of AIDS to haemophiliacs.
  • The possibility is considered of withdrawing clotting factor concentrates from the market and replacing them with cryoprecipitate. It is concluded that this is not feasible in the UK on grounds of supply. (Minutes Agenda Point 5.3)
  • The possibility is considered of withdrawing US preparations from the UK. It is concluded that this is not at present feasible on grounds of supply. Moreover, the perceived level of risk does not at present justify serious consideration of such a solution. (Minutes Agenda Point 5.4)
Source: Additional Sources: Haemophilia HIV Litigation, Advice on Settlement Doc., pp 56-58.
Link #2
Type: Minutes - Committee on Safety of Medicines
Location: UK
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20 November
Dr Seale - Attempts for 2 Years to Alert Public Health Officials of AIDS Threat
In an article in The Standard, it states that Dr Seale had been trying to alert public health officials to the implications of the threat of AIDS for nearly two years:

Dr John Seale: "I wrote to both Mrs Thatcher and the Public Health Laboratory Services to suggest blood transfusion policy changes then." (paragraph 4)

Note: This article shows that both Margaret Thatcher and the PHLS were notified circa November 1982 and could reasonably have been expected to know about the threat of AIDS to the Blood Transfusion Service and thus to haemophiliacs.

Type: Recovered Document - Article in The Standard, by Alan Massam. 20th November 1984
Location: UK
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