Hepatitis C haemophiliacs in line for payouts

Haemophilia sufferers infected with Hepatitis C by contaminated blood will receive up to $63,000 each in a move expected to cost the Government $11 million, it was reported today.

Health Minister Pete Hodgson has not yet announced the payments but The Press newspaper today reported 180 people infected with contaminated blood products in the 1980s and 1990s would be paid out as well as receiving improved treatment.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, health minister during part of the period in question, would also give them an apology.

Up to 700 people who received the products, but were not haemophiliacs, could also be in line for a payment.

The Press reported that could cost about $44 million if they were paid on the same basis.

The payments would be calculated on what the patients would have received from ACC before the end of lump-sum payments in 1992, with interest added.

Haemophilia Foundation president Dave McCone said he was relieved the payments were going to happen.

" I know people outside the foundation who have received hepatitis C through blood transfusions. Many of them have been out there, absolutely lost, not knowing what to do or who to get in touch with."

Hepatitis C affects the liver, and in serious cases can cause cirrhosis and cancer.

Haemophiliacs depend on regular blood product transfusions making them more likely to receive the contaminated blood.

- NZPA

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