You may have seen this story before.
Recently Canadian Blood Services said it was increasing imports of “surplus” plasma from the United States, assuring us it is FDA approved.
In 2009/10 CBS imported 10,000 units. In 2010/11 it was doubled to 20,000 units.
In the 1980s the U.S. FDA also approved shipments of plasma product to Canada and other countries around the globe.
While the U.S. FDA was happy to approve the export of this product in the 1980s, they wouldn’t allow it for U.S. use since 1984.
Why? It came from an Arkansas prison, where HIV and Hepatitus C was widespread among inmates.
Arkansas was one of the few U.S. states that did not pay inmates for the work they performed in the corrections system. However, selling their blood was considered a legitimate way to make money in prison that was “considered acceptable to the citizens of Arkansas” according the Arkansas Times. And of course, the Arkansas Department of Corrections took their cut of the revenue.
When this blood was sold around the world – including here in Canada — it created a tainted blood scandal that took the lives of thousands of innocent victims.