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British Tainted Blood Probe Faults US Companies

A British probe into the use of contaminated blood supplies that infected nearly 5,000 patients more than two decades ago says U.S. companies are partly to blame for what it calls a "horrific human tragedy."

Some 2,000 patients who suffered from hemophilia, an incurable hereditary bleeding disorder, died after being infected over almost two decades, beginning in the 1970s. Many others are reported terminally ill.

The inquiry says U.S. companies that supplied blood continued to use paid-for blood donations from prison populations and other at-risk communities even after alarms were raised about possible risks. The report does not name any U.S. suppliers.

The report, issued Monday, also criticizes the British government for being too slow in cutting off infected blood imports from abroad.

Additionally, it calls for increased British government aid to at-risk patients and families who suffered as a result of the crisis.

Tainted blood scandals have been investigated in the past two decades in several countries, including France, Spain, Bulgaria and Libya. In most cases, governments were subsequently criticized for failing to respond to early medical warnings that tainted blood supplies were responsible for the alarming spread of Hepatitis-C and the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.