Infected Blood Inquiry: 'No sign of respect for harmed or grieving'

Christopher Bishop worked for Armour while the company sold contaminated blood products

Christopher Bishop worked for Armour while the company sold contaminated blood products - Credit: Infected Blood Inquiry

Concerns over the transmission of deadly viruses through the transfusion of blood products were deemed “emotive” and “inaccurate” despite the evidence of risks, a pharma company has said.  

Christopher Bishop, from ex-pharma company Armour, gave evidence on November 4 at the Infected Blood Inquiry, which is investigating the circumstances of thousands of people contracting HIV and/or hepatitis through contaminated blood during the 1970s and 1980s. 

Mr Bishop, who worked in the marketing and sales department while the company sold infected blood products to the UK, said medical and scientific developments were followed "meticulously". 

“We were accepted and we were the gold standard [for blood products], in many ways,” he said. 

Mr Bishop acknowledged he knew in 1981 of the risks of non-A non-B hepatitis infection (now known as hepatitis C) and its severe side effects following the transfusion of blood products.  

Asked if Armour was downplaying the risk of HIV seroconversion despite evidence of infected people in 1983, Mr Bishop said: “We were just trying to reflect the current scientific thinking. 

“With the state of art knowledge at the time, it would be quite wrong to cause consternation with individual patients, until more was known and the science and knowledge evolved.” 

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On the first case of seroconversion in Lewisham in 1985 after using heat-treated Factorate, an Armour product, Mr Bishop said: “Until further information was available and proven... we were still confident that our product was safe.” 

Asked about looking back, he said: “I can't believe that we even thought that we'd done anything wrong.  

“On the contrary, as a company, we'd done everything possible to provide the best possible treatment and the most up-to-date systems in accordance with the state of art at that time.”  

Armour’s products were withdrawn from the market in 1986.

Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry

Sir Brian Langstaff, chair of the Infected Blood Inquiry - Credit: Infected Blood Inquiry

Mark Ward, a former Royal Free patient, said: “Mr Bishop’s performance was at times completely devoid of any compassion or remorse.  

“To say no lessons were learnt as he claimed he would not change anything despite having the ability of hindsight was, in my opinion, a window into the kind of people employed by these blood traders. 

“No sign of respect for those harmed or the grieving from a very successful salesman whose priority, like his American masters, was to put profit before life.”