The Factor 8 Scandal

(Contaminated Blood Scandal / Tainted Blood Scandal)

Before looking at the Factor 8 Scandal in detail, it is vital to understand one crucial point... Long before Factor Concentrates first hit the market in in the 1970's, it was common knowledge in the medical and pharmaceutical community that the raw material these products were made from, "Blood Plasma", could transmit viruses such as Hepatitis, and that by "pooling" tens of thousands of donations, the risk of infection was massively increased, in the case of Hepatitis C, it was 100%, infection was guaranteed. These products should never have been given to people until it was reasonably thought that they were safe.

The Warnings

It was all totally avoidable.
“As you know, Cutter’s product Konye, for Factor deficiency, has proved extraordinarily hazardous, a 50-90 percent rate of icteric hepatitis developing from it. About half of these cases prove fatal.”
— 6th Jan 1975: Dr J Garrott Allen letter to Dr William Maycock (Head of Blood Transfusion Service)
“Commercial blood banking perpetuates the high-risk rates for Hepatitis we encounter with their products”
— 6th Jan 1975: Dr J Garrott Allen letter to Dr William Maycock (Head of Blood Transfusion Service)
“There is a relatively high risk of Hepatitis B being transmitted by the blood of prisoners”
— 1st May 1975: H Yellowlees (UK Chief Medical Officer) letter to all Regional Medical Officers [SGH0030187]
“Donors from ‘high risk’ Hepatitis areas (until the more sensitive test for HBsAg is in use) and donors from endemic malarious areas (irrespective of the type of hepatitis test), should be told that their red cells cannot be used as they may transmit Hepatitis or Malaria respectively, but their plasma is a valuable source of plasma fractions or diagnostic materials.”
— 1st May 1975, a letter from the UK Chief Medical Officer to all regional medical officers
“all blood products made from blood donated in the USA after 1978 should be withdrawn from use”
— 9th May 1983: Letter from Dr N S Galbraith (PHLS/CDSC) to Dr Ian Field (Department of Health)
“avoid the use of coagulation factor products from large plasma pools”
— 16th May 1983: Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (83) 8 for 23rd June 1983
“we may be seeing the beginnings of a problem which could escalate if appropriate steps are not taken now”
— 16th May 1983: Informal Report by Dr H. H. Gunson on the Proceedings of the 6th Meeting of the Council of Europe
“The Coagulation Factors present a definitive risk.”
— 12th Sep 1983: Connaught Memo from J C W Weber
“there must be a real danger that the UK will become a dumping ground for USA companies to get rid of their non-regulated products”
— 27th Oct 1983: Letter to the Lord Glenarthur from ASTMS
“ It has been shown that the first exposure to concentrate, from whatever source, is associated with a hundred per cent infectivity with non-A, non-B hepatitis.”
— 9th Feb 1984: Meeting on the Infectious Hazards of Blood Products - Dr Thomas (NIBSC) [SNB0048628]