CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Criminal charges in tainted blood scandal

The Story

Criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Endangering the public. Violating the Food and Drug Act. These are the crimes four people, a pharmaceutical company and the Red Cross are facing after a five-year RCMP investigation into Canada's tainted blood disaster. In these two clips, CBC reporters explain the charges and document the reactions from some of the people who were harmed most.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Nov. 20, 2002
Guest(s): Michelle Brill-Edwards, Janet Conners, Edward Greenspan, Graham Sher
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Ron Charles, Laurie Graham
Duration: 6:10

Did You know?

• The RCMP laid 32 charges in total against two senior bureaucrats at Health Canada, the head of the Red Cross's blood program, and a vice-president of Armour Pharmaceutical. The company itself was also charged, as was the Canadian Red Cross Society.

• Armour Pharmaceutical is a New Jersey company that manufactures Factor VIII concentrate for use by hemophiliacs.

• The RCMP launched the investigation less than a month after the Krever Report came out. Four Crown attorneys and 15 full-time investigators worked on the case.

• The charges of negligence related to the distribution of Factor VIII concentrate in 1986 and 1987. The product was heat-treated to kill HIV, but the treatment was faulty and seven children were infected. The Canadian Hemophilia Society had demanded the product be pulled, but the Red Cross refused.

• The common nuisance charges of endangering the public stemmed from the Red Cross's failure to adequately screen blood donors, how blood contamination by hepatitis C was handled and the use of test kits.

• A conviction of criminal negligence can mean a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, while endangering the public can carry a sentence of up to two years. Violating the Food and Drug Act can result in a fine.

• On May 30, 2005, the Red Cross pleaded guilty to violating the Food and Drug Regulation Act by distributing an adulterated or contaminated drug. The agency was fined $5,000, which was the maximum penalty for the offence under the act. The criminal charges were dropped.


The Krever Report: Canada's Tainted Blood Disaster more