Friday, February 8, 2008

The FDA has levied a $4.6 million dollar fine against the American Red Cross for the distribution of "unsuitable blood products".

From (2/06/08)

FDA Fines Red Cross Another $4.6 Million

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration has fined the Red Cross an additional $4.6 million for the distribution of "unsuitable blood products," bringing penalties against the organization to more than $19 million in recent years.

The FDA issued a letter Wednesday stating that it reviewed 113 recalls of blood products by the Red Cross from April 2003 to April 2006. The recalls involved the release of an estimated 4,094 unsuitable blood components.

Agency officials noted that having to conduct a recall shows that safety protocols were breached. For example, a donor may not have been appropriately asked about international travel or intravenous drug use.

FDA spokeswoman Peper Long said the agency didn't find any evidence of serious health consequences as a result of the safety breaches.

Red Cross officials said it was taking several steps to find problems in the collection and distribution of blood supplies. It's increasing supervision at blood drives and consolidating processing facilities. Its goal is to meet the FDA's standards for quality and safety, officials said.

"It takes time and it takes resources, but we're committed to doing whatever's necessary to meet that goal," said Red Cross spokeswoman Stephanie Millian.

Millian stressed that the fine would not be paid through donations but through the operating fees that it charges those who get blood units, such as hospitals.

The latest fine is being added to a tally of nearly $15 million in previous FDA penalties for violation of blood-safety laws, regulations and the terms of a 2003 consent decree.

That settlement resolved charges that the Red Cross had committed "persistent and serious violations" of federal blood safety rules dating back 17 years.

In 2004, the Red Cross implemented a plan, with the FDA's blessing, to detect, investigate, monitor and correct the sorts of problems repeatedly cited by government investigators.

The Red Cross apparently has a lousy track record monitoring blood shipments, but they also seem to have poor judgement about the company they keep. In January, the Middle Atlantic region of the Red Cross gave a special award to Blackwater Worldwide and their owner Erik Princeofdarkness, for having collected 264 units of blood from their employees.

Jeremy Scahill at AlterNet (2/02/08)

Blackwater and Blood: Spilling it in Iraq, Donating it at Home

If there's one thing that can be said about Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration's favorite mercenary company, it is no stranger to blood -- its operatives have caused a lot of it to be spilled in Iraq. Last September, Blackwater forces gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square and wounded more than 20 others. It was reportedly one of 10 such deadly incidents involving the company in Iraq since June 2005. After all the carnage and death, Blackwater is now giving back. Not in Iraq, but right here at home.

This week, the company received an award from the American Red Cross -- not for its skill at making Iraqis bleed, but for Blackwater's recent blood drive, where company employees reportedly gave 264 units of blood. "That means that well over 600 lives have been saved in this region," said Georgia Donaldson of the Mid Atlantic region Red Cross.

The group presented Blackwater's owner, Erik Prince with a plaque, honoring the company. "I'm proud of the folks we have here. We have a great team, they constantly go above and beyond the call of duty, they give back and they're giving to their local community here," said Prince. But here's the money quote: Blackwater "saw a need for the community to receive more blood, so we made it available and our folks answered the call." Sort of like what they do in Iraq for Bush. Oh, and this blood must be mighty special. As Prince told Congress last year, his men "bleed red, white and blue."

This isn't the first time Blackwater and the Red Cross teamed up. After Hurricane Katrina, where Blackwater raked in over $70 million in federal "security" contracts, the company held a Red Cross fundraiser and pulled in $138,000 -- about $100,000 short of Blackwater's estimated daily take at the height of its Katrina operations. The keynote speaker at that event? L. Paul Bremer, the original head of the US occupation.

As for the recent blood drive, maybe the Red Cross should ship some of it over to Iraq for Blackwater's next victims.

It would come as no surprise to discover that the next fine the Red Cross pays will be for releasing 264 units of tainted blood, but they won't mind--hell, it's free money anyway.

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