American Red Cross Fined $16 Million for Unsafe Blood Practices

After a series of transgressions reminiscent of Kramer’s packing away gallons of his own blood inside Jerry’s Tupperware for storage at his at-home blood bank, the American Red Cross was recently fined $16 million by the FDA for failure to comply with laws and regulations related to the collection and manufacture of blood products.

Since 2003, the Red Cross has reportedly been fined more than $21 million and cited a dozen times in what have been called “chronic” blood safety violations. The American Red Cross, one of several organizations responsible for collecting and managing the country’s blood supply, reportedly accounts for approximately 43% of the blood supply in the United States. It sells blood products including red blood cells, plasma, and platelets to various health facilities.

The majority of this latest fine is reportedly related to the mismanagement of certain blood products and violations in the manufacturing process. However, in spite of these oversights, the FDA has said the organization’s blood supply appears to be safe. In fact, according to an American Red Cross spokesperson, 98% of the violations cited by the FDA occurred prior to 2008, at a time when the organization was overwhelmed with staffing cuts. Since then, according to the Red Cross, the group has made significant improvements.

In sum, it appears as though the nation’s blood supply is – and has been – safe.