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Government running scared of pharmaceutical companies - Ó Caoláin

4 April, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, has said the government is running scared of multinational pharmaceutical companies, given its refusal to sue them over the Hepatitis C and HIV infection of blood products. He said it was "deplorable" that while the Government refuses to sue these companies it is to pay one of them €6 million for a bird flu vaccine.

This week's Irish Medical News reveals that Baxter International, which is implicated in the scandal of infected blood products being supplied to haemophiliacs, is one of two companies supplying the avian flu vaccine to the Irish government at a cost of €6 million.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated: "Many people in Ireland and throughout the world have died as a result of receiving transfusions of contaminated blood and blood products supplied by multinational pharmaceutical companies. People have been infected with HIV and Hepatitis C because of the criminal practices of these companies who manufactured and sold their products with total disregard for patient safety. Five years after Health Minister Micheál Martin initiated legal advice on this matter the Government has still not made a decision on whether to take a legal case for damages against these companies on behalf of the Irish people.

"Now we find that it is 'business as usual' with these companies as far as the government is concerned. This is deplorable.

"The Government is running scared of these giant multinationals. Yet at the same time the State has fought cases all the way to the Supreme Court against Irish citizens seeking education and other services for their disabled children. The government mobilises all the legal resources of the State against autistic children but not against multinational drug companies who have poisoned and killed people." ENDS

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