Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal is a feature-length documentary by Arkansas filmmaker and investigative journalist Kelly Duda. Through interviews and presentation of documents and footage, Duda alleges that for more than two decades, the Arkansas prison system profited from selling blood plasma from inmates infected with viral hepatitis and AIDS. The documentary contends that thousands of victims who received transfusions of a blood product derived from these plasma products, Factor VIII, died as a result.
Factor 8 uses in-depth interviews and key documents as well as never-before-seen footage, to allege wrongdoing at the Arkansas state government, and at the United States federal level.
Through in-depth interviews with a number of players, including victims in Canada who contracted the diseases, US state prison officials, former employees, high-ranking Arkansas politicians and inmate donors, Factor 8 examines a prison blood-harvesting scheme run by prisoners to earn them an income; the blood was then sold by blood companies for millions of dollars. The harvested plasma was then shipped around the world, where it has been reported to have infected thousands of haemophilia patients. Haemophilia is a genetic condition which prevents clotting.
In the United States, lawyers have won settlements for 8,000 US haemophilia sufferers after they were given infected blood. In 2002 the UK Government promised an inquiry if it was proven infected blood came from a US prison, although to date no inquiry has taken place. The UK Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, has said: "We are aware that during the 1970s and 80s blood products were sourced from US prisoners" and the UK Haemophilia Society has called for a Public Inquiry. The UK Government maintains that the Government of the day had acted in good faith and without the blood products many patients would have died. In a letter to Lord Jenkin of Roding the Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) informed Lord Jenkin that most files on contaminated NHS blood products which infected people with HIV and hepatitis C had unfortunately been destroyed "in error". Fortunately, copies that were taken by legal entities in the UK at the time of previous litigation may mean the documentation can be retrieved and consequently assessed.
In Canada, the federal government approved in July, 2006 a $1 billion compensation package for the so-called "forgotten victims" of tainted blood. Prior to this, the Canadian Red Cross pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to distributing tainted blood products and infecting Canadians with HIV and hepatitis C. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police blood task force has an ongoing investigation into the Arkansas sells.
In Japan tainted blood victims won two class-action lawsuits in 2006 against two Japanese pharmaceutical companies and the Japanese federal government. Japan also used blood harvested from the Arkansas Department of Correction. On March 23, 2007, the Tokyo District Court became the third court to rule in favor of more Hep-C suffering tainted blood victims, awarding the plaintiffs 259 million yen. A fourth lawsuit victory for victims led to a compensation package by the federal government for hundreds of victims and a formal apology from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in December, 2007.
Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal was screened at Slamdance 2005 and at the American Film Institute’s Los Angeles Film Festival in November 2005. It won a special mention award at AFI and received a commendable review from critic John Anderson in the industry newspaper Variety. A special screening of the film was held in Soho, London on May 5, 2006. On May 9, 2006, AIDS victims demonstrated against former US president Bill Clinton's visit to Glasgow where he gave a speech about global politics. The British premiere of Factor 8 was held on September 29, 2006, as part of the 14th Raindance Film Festival in Piccadilly Circus, London.
In April 2007, the United Kingdom began a highly publicized public inquiry into contaminated blood, garnering significant media coverage. In May, Scotland announced an impending inquiry of its own into tainted blood.
On July 11, 2007, Duda testified at the Lord Archer Inquiry on Contaminated Blood in Westminster, United Kingdom. The inquiry's aim is to uncover the British government's part in a scandal that led to thousands of infections and deaths. Duda gave evidence as to the United States' (and Arkansas's) role in the tragedy in what Lord Robert Winston has dubbed as "the worst treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service".