Cara McGoogan

The Poison Line

The Poison Line

Life and Death in the Infected Blood Scandal


The shocking true story of how a miracle cure became a deadly poison, and the lengths that big pharma and government took to cover it up, for readers of Patrick Radden Keefe's Empire of Pain and John Carreyrou's Bad Blood

'Essential reading' Jonathan Freedland, author of The Escape Artist

When it was first put on the market in the late 1960s, Factor VIII was sold as a medical miracle: a revolutionary treatment that freed people with haemophilia to reclaim their lives, no longer in fear that a bleed might prove fatal. But as the cure was rolled out wholesale in the 1970s and 80s, haemophiliacs began to contract hepatitis and AIDS in terrifying numbers. Questions began to be asked. Rumours circulated in the press. How safe was Factor VIII?

Award-winning investigative journalist and host of the Bed of Lies podcast Cara McGoogan traces the line of infection back to the pharmaceutical companies - Alpha, Armour, Baxter and Bayer - who made Factor VIII by pooling thousands of donors' paid-for plasma and selling it for billions of dollars. The miracle treatment was infected with HIV, and it was being injected straight into the arms of people with haemophilia around the world. Before long, Factor VIII was killing those it promised to protect.

In this David and Goliath story, we follow the survivors-turned-campaigners, the small-town lawyers and the fearless journalists who took on some of the most powerful interests in the world - from medical institutions to governments and big business - to uncover what really happened in the infected blood scandal, the worst treatment disaster in NHS history. From 'an indefatigable detective and born storyteller' (Steve Coll), The Poison Line brings the full truth into the light in all its shocking and riveting detail.

'An important and mostly unknown story of pharmaceutical malfeasance and greed with devastating and lethal consequences' Gerald Posner, author of Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America