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Cos. Offer Tainted Blood Settlement

January 5, 2000

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Two U.S. medical firms and a Dutch organization have offered to pay up to $2.36 million to Dutch hemophiliacs infected with the AIDS virus during blood transfusions in the 1980s, officials said Wednesday.

The offer is intended to help the remaining survivors of the 130 people infected with HIV by tainted blood, said Jose Willemsen, spokeswoman for the Organization for Hemophilia Patients, or CLB.

The settlement was negotiated by the CLB and U.S. medical companies Baxter International Inc. and Aventius Bhering, formerly known as Centeon. The companies said the offer still must be approved by the survivors.

Aventius spokesman Guy Esnouf and Baxter spokesman Marten Nibelce refused to give further details. Both spokesmen are Dutch representatives for their respective companies.

The $2.36 million figure represents a maximum amount and could be lowered, depending on how many patients participate in the settlement.

The CLB is a Dutch volunteer organization that helped deliver the tainted blood. The organization said it will foot a third of the bill for the settlement.

It was unclear exactly how many people are entitled to the funds, since an unknown number have died from AIDS, said Willemsen.

``Although a large number of them have already passed away, we are pleased that this story has come to an end,″ Willemsen said.

Under the agreement, victims must retract any lawsuits against the companies. The families of the deceased will inherit the payment in case of death.

The Netherlands Red Cross will distribute the funds, according to Willemsen.

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