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Docs Face Criminal Charges

Nov 21, 2002 | The Calgary Sun Criminal charges against four doctors, an American pharmaceutical company and the Canadian Red Cross have been laid in Canada's decades-old tainted blood disaster, a development that persuaded some victims their troubles weren't just bad luck.

"Victims have been validated," said Mike McCarthy, one of thousands of Canadians who contracted hepatitis C or HIV from tainted blood in the 1980s.

"We can't blame God for what happened here. It was real people that made these decisions."

In announcing the charges yesterday, Supt. Rod Knecht, head of the Toronto-based RCMP Blood Task Force, said Canadians have the right to expect safe blood.

"The Canadian public has the right to expect the safest blood and the safest blood products possible. This is fundamental to health, safety and lives of everyone living in Canada," Knecht said.

Further charges may follow, Knecht said.

Dr. Wark Boucher, 62, charged yesterday with three counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count of common nuisance is listed in the government phone book as the acting chief of transfusion transmitted infections in the division of bloodborne diseases.

As well, the Canadian Red Cross was charged with six counts of common nuisance by endangering the public.

All four doctors and New Jersey-based Armour Pharmaceutical Company were charged with criminal negligence and endangering the public for allegedly allowing Armour's blood-clotting product, infected with HIV, to be given to hemophilia patients.

The Red Cross and Dr. Roger Perrault, 66, its former director of blood transfusion, were also charged with not screening out blood donors who might have HIV.

Canadian Red Cross CEO Pierre Duplessis apologized to the victims of tainted blood yesterday afternoon but wouldn't comment on the charges.

Police identified the remaining doctors charged as Dr. John Furesz, 75, of Ottawa, former director of biologics at Ottawa's health protection branch, and Dr. Michael Rodell, 70, a former vice-president of Armour who lives in Bala Cynwid, Penn.

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