[Sinn Fein]

23rd November 2002

Ó Caoláin calls on Government to heed Canadian example in prosecuting pharmaceutical companies for role in contamination of blood products

Commenting on the recent developments in the Canadian blood contamination scandal, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin reiterated Sinn Fein's call for the establishment of an adjudicative tribunal to investigate the role of the pharmaceutical companies.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``Victims of Canada's blood contamination scandal are at last satisfied that justice has followed its course. Irish people infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C through contaminated blood also deserve to see justice done.

``Before proceeding with the establishment of what Minister Mícheál Martin describes as ``a useful investigation which would allow access to publicly available materials and to persons and bodies willing to co-operate'' the Government needs to look carefully at unfolding events in other countries.

``Canadian authorities have charged Armour Pharmaceuticals Limited with three counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count of common nuisance in connection with the distribution of its product. In light of the charges which Canadian authorities have pressed is quiet incredible that the Lindsay Report did not include any criticisms of that company.

``Evidence was given to the Lindsay Tribunal of the knowledge of Armour Pharmaceuticals Limited of the HIV infection risks posed by Armour products and that they continued to distribute those products in Ireland. This mirrors events in Canada where the charges pressed by Canadian authorities allege the company failed to notify Canada's federal health regulators immediately of a deficiency or alleged deficiency in the process it used to kill the AIDS virus in its blood products.

``We need to ask ourselves if the lives of Irish citizens are worth any less than those of citizens of other states. It is unacceptable that a pharmaceutical company can commit the same crime in this country and yet not be charged with an offence.

``If another tribunal of investigation is established which does not have legal authority to apportion blame, this state will once again face a massive bill for a tribunal which will fail to hold those responsible for the infection with HIV and Hepatitis C of persons with Haemophilia accountable.''

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