Blood money: film about the big pharmaceutical scandal

Blood money: film about the big pharmaceutical scandal

TV drama about bleeding scandal

In the 1980s there was one of the largest medical scandals in the Federal Republic. Hemophiliacs were infected with HIV via contaminated plasma. This Monday, ZDF is broadcasting a television film on the subject.

AIDS spreads in the 80s When the immune deficiency disease, caused by the HIV virus, spread more and more in the early 1980s, the opinion was still widespread that only homosexuals, prostitutes and drug addicts were affected. But even then, committed doctors warned that blood products could also be contaminated with HIV. For numerous hemophiliacs, the warnings were ignored.

Wounds do not heal or heal poorly with hemophiliacs. Life expectancy was low until the early 1970s for patients with hemophilia. With this blood clotting disorder, wounds do not heal, or only very poorly. In addition, injuries or no recognizable wounds can result in persistent bleeding, primarily in muscles and joints. When factor VIII supplements came on the market, they made it possible for many sufferers to live a largely normal life because the remedy made the blood clot again.

AIDS risk was known The preparations were obtained from human blood, including from homosexual or drug-dependent donors. Much of the stored blood was contaminated not only with the HI virus, but also with dangerous hepatitis C viruses. But even though the danger of AIDS was known, the pharmaceutical industry and the health authorities decided not to withdraw the drug from the market.

Those affected did not have a lobby. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry accepted that out of greed for profit, bleeders contracted AIDS. Over 1,500 bleeders have been infected and more than 1,000 have died of AIDS to date. The director of the television film “Blutgeld”, René Heisig, who is himself a doctor, tries to explain how it could happen that the victims did not fight back: “They had no lobby. In addition, they found it difficult to get reliable information; the Internet did not yet exist. And: AIDS had a bad pleasure epidemic. There was also a lot of shame and fear in the game. "

The pharmaceutical industry has used the situation very hard. He continues: "The victims felt like perpetrators." In addition, those affected have been socially excluded and discriminated against. Besides, they didn't have much time. "The pharmaceutical industry was counting on the problem to resolve itself quickly," says Heisig. The victims could hardly hope for a positive outcome of a lengthy process because they died. “They were also required to provide evidence. The pharmaceutical industry has made tough use of the fact that it was almost impossible to give an exact date of the infection, let alone to say who caused it, ”said the director.

Foundation for the Victims The investigation of the case only started in 1993. A committee of inquiry found in 1994 that the use of blood products was "unacceptable". The then president of the Federal Health Office (BGA) was released. Since 1995, when the "Humanitarian Aid Foundation for people infected with HIV through blood products" was established, victims have received little financial aid. Every HIV-infected person receives EUR 767 a month, AIDS sufferers EUR 1,534, and surviving wives receive a third of this for five years. And children of those affected received 512 euros per month up to the age of 25.

TV film on Monday The funds for this are raised by industry, the federal government and the federal states. The Ministry of Health had to increase the budget again two years ago and the cash register will be empty again in 2017. So far there have been no compensation payments for the hepatitis victims. ZDF will broadcast the television film “Blutgeld” tomorrow at 8:15 pm on Monday. (ad)

Image: Andrea Damm /

Author and source information

Video: How psychiatric patients became victims. DW Documentary (October 2020).