The drug company that supplied Hong Kong patients with a blood coagulant, believed to have been contaminated with HIV, said it had always 'behaved responsibly, ethically, and humanely''. In a statement given to the South China Morning Post, the owners of Cutter said the entire biological products industry felt and had expressed deep sorrow to the haemophiliac community over the devastating impact of HIV and Aids. 'Decisions made nearly two decades ago were based on the best scientific information of the time and were consistent with the regulations in place,' a Bayer statement said. 'They cannot be judged on the information available today.' Yesterday, a senior Bayer official said it was unfortunate that fresh news coverage had 'reopened this nearly 20-year-old tragedy'. The company confirmed that Cutter, its US biological unit, had paid about US$300 million in the United States as part of a total US$600 million settlement paid by blood product companies in 1997. The company said all manufacturing of non-heat treated products by Cutter ended in August 1984, and only heat-treated products were shipped after June 1985. 'The approval of Cutter's heat-treated product in Hong Kong took over 12 months from the time we initiated the registration process,'' Bayer's statement said. But the Hong Kong Department of Health said it normally took only one week to get the new product registered in the city. A department statement to the Post said the first version of Koate Factor VIII, which was not heat-treated, was registered in Hong Kong in 1979. 'Although with the lapse of time, detailed records are no longer available, it normally took about one year for an application for registration of a pharmaceutical product to be studied and approved at that time. 'The heat-treated version of Factor VIII became available only later. The importer of the heat-treated version of Koate applied to the then Medical and Health Department to import this product into Hong Kong for the first time in July 1985. 'It took about one week for that application to be approved,'' the statement said.