Press Release

Statement by the Department of Health and Children on IBTS Report

The Department of Health and Children received a copy today of an internal audit report of the IBTS on Discard Blood Products.  This audit was carried out at the request of the CEO in November on the records of the Dublin and Cork blood centres.

The audit concerned a search of available records to determine if blood or blood products were issued or sold to commercial companies and what volumes were involved from the 1980’s to date.

The report noted that on 20th March 1997, National Medical Director Dr William Murphy issued a memo ‘Provision of Blood and Blood Products for Research Purposes.’  This memo outlined procedures for the issue of products for research purposes to academic and healthcare institutions.  From that date, the practice of providing product to commercial companies was discontinued at Pelican House.  At the Munster Regional Transfusion Centre, the definition of healthcare institutions was taken to include a number of commercial ventures, such as Trinity Biotech, Olympus Diagnostica and Shandon Clinic.  The memo did not make reference to a prohibition on the release of product to commercial ventures.

Dr Murphy issued a subsequent memo on 20th March 2002 to the MRTC clarifying the policy in relation to the issue of products to commercial companies, stating that “provision of materials to these commercial companies should be suspended with immediate effect.” There was no further issue of products to commercial companies after that date.

Commenting today, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children said – ” I was surprised to learn of this matter and disturbed to hear that this practice has been taking place without the express consent of those who donated blood. ”

The audit report contains extensive details on the issue and the Department is reviewing its content.