Renault's boss is investigated in blood scandal

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 03 June 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1428

The chief executive of the French car manufacturer Renault has been placed under investigation following charges that he was an accessory to the crime of poisoning. Paris prosecutor Marie-Odile Bertelle-Geffroy will attempt to establish the part that Louis Schweitzer played in high level decisions taken in 1985 over whether systematic screening of French blood donors for HIV was necessary. At the time Mr Schweitzer was chief of staff for the then prime minister Laurent Fabius.


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Louie Schweitzer: last in a long list of people

After an interministerial meeting on 9 May 1985 the cabinet requested that the HIV screening test proposed by the American pharmaceutical company Abbott “be kept on hold for the time being by the national health laboratory.” A competing (and more costly) test developed by the Pasteur Institute was in the pipeline, and the current investigation seeks to determine whether commercial interests favouring Pasteur kept the Abbott test out of the market, thus resulting in cases of HIV infection that could have been avoided.

Mr Schweitzer is the last in a long list of people placed under investigation in relation to the “contaminated blood affair.” Others are the former prime minister Fabius himself; Professor Francois Gros, former scientific adviser to Fabius and also former director of the Pasteur Institute and perpetual secretary of the French Academy of Sciences; Mrs Georgina Dufoix, then minister of social affairs and solidarity; and Dr Claude Weisselberg, former adviser to the health secretariat.

Trials in the contaminated blood affair may resume later this year.—ALEXANDER DOROZYNSKI, medical journalist, Paris

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