Judge acquits in tainted blood trial
A judge cleared Canadian health officials and a U.S. drug company Monday of criminal liability for tainted blood products that infected thousands of people.
Justice Mary Lou Benotto of the Ontario Superior Court said the accused should not have been charged, The Toronto Globe and Mail reported.
"The events here were tragic. However, to assign blame where none exists is to compound the tragedy," she said.
The verdict drew an angry reaction from those who became sick because of the tainted products.
The case is considered Canada's worst preventable public health disaster, with 20,000 people contracting hepatitis C and another 1,000 infected with the human immunodeficiency virus through the transfusion of blood and blood products, including Factorate, produced by Armour, a pharmaceutical company in Bridgewater, N.J., in the 1980s and 1990s. Seven hemophiliacs died.
The defendants included Roger Perrault, former director of the Canadian Red Cross Society blood-transfusion service; John Furesz and Wark Boucher, former officials with the Bureau of Biologics at Health Canada; Wark Boucher, former chief of the blood-products division of the Bureau of Biologics; Michael Rodell, former vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at Armour; and the company. // Copyright 2007 by United Press International