The Food and Drug Administration has filed court papers urging that the Red Cross be found in contempt of court and fined for repeated and uncorrected safety violations in collecting, testing, and distributing blood, The [Newark] Star-Ledger reports. The papers claim that the Red Cross "jeopardized the public health" and operated with "chronic inattention and callous indifference to its blood collection and processing responsibilities."
The charges stem from an eight-week FDA inspection of the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Service in Baltimore, which uncovered that workers had accepted donors who did not answer required questions regarding their sexual histories or possible exposure to HIV, among several other problems. The Red Cross entered into a consent agreement with the FDA in 1993 over irregularities in its blood collection procedures and promised then to make changes to make the nation's blood supply safer. The new papers filed by the FDA claim the Red Cross is in violation of that legal agreement.
Lawyers for the Red Cross say the charges are inaccurate and misleading and that the FDA "misstated" the findings of its inspection. FDA officials will appear before a federal judge later this month to demand that the Red Cross be found in contempt of the consent agreement.