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Blood Products

Volume 116: debated on Friday 15 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) when his Department first became aware of the threat to haemophiliacs from imported factor VIII in relation to (a) hepatitis and (b) HIV virus;

(2) when heat-treatment of imported factor VIII was initiated; and when all haemophiliacs were first able to obtain access to safe factor VIII;

(3) what was the original completion date proposed for the blood products laboratory at Elstree; what is the completion date now; when Britain will be self sufficient in blood products; and what are the reasons for the development slipping behind schedule.

[pursuant to his replies, 16 February 1987, c. 510–13]: It became evident in the United Kingdom in 1974 that the use of imported factor VIII was associated with non-A, non-B hepatitis. Progress to eliminate this risk has been limited because the agent responsible has not yet been identified. Clinical trials of factor VIII are in progress to assess if certain heat treatments inactivate the agent.Evidence emerged in the United States of America in 1982 that haemophiliacs were contracting AIDS and although the mechanism of infection was not known, it was presumed that it had been transmitted through the use of blood products such as factor VIII.The first account of experimental work which showed that HIV in factor VIII could be inactivated by heat treatment was published in October 1984 ("Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1984", Vol. 33, 589–91). This work led to the National Haemophilia Society of the United States of America advising that heat-treated factor VIII should be considered for haemophiliacs even though its protection against AIDS remained to be proven. Similar advice was published in the United Kingdom in December 1984 (

Lancet 1984, Vol. 2, 1433–1435). However, not until February 1985 ( Lancet 1985, Vol. 1, 271–272) was evidence published which showed that heat treatment of factor VIII actually reduced transmission of HIV to haemophiliacs.