Japan To Seek 280,000 Recipients Of Blood Tainted With Hepatitis C Virus
(AHN) - Tokyo, Japan (AHN) - Japan's health ministry has heeded to a lawmaker's demand to trace up to 280,000 patients who received a blood product contaminated with hepatitis C virus as far back as the 1980s.
The ministry also agreed to partly shoulder the cost of examining identified recipients if they have contracted the liver disease and of treating those infected, a Japanese newspaper said.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, health minister Yoichi Masuzoe on Wednesday agreed to the proposal of former health minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan during a Lower House committee hearing on the case of the tainted fibrinogen, a blood-clotting agent.
The minister also told the health, labor and welfare panel that his office will settle out of court by yearend five lawsuits over hepatitis C infection via fibrinogen made by the former Mitsubishi Pharma Corp. (MPC) and its now-defunct predecessor Green Cross Co.
The MPC, which is now part of Tanabe Pharmaceutical Corp., reported to the ministry in 2002 that 418 patients were infected or at risk of hepatitis C. Masuzoe said the firm will have to help shoulder the medical expenses for the at-risk and infected patients.
According to Asahi Shimbun, about 7,000 hospitals were given and administered fibrinogen from 1964 up to the 1980s.
The Daily Yomiuri Online reported that there was a mass infection of Hepatitis C in northern Japan's Aomori Prefecture in 1987 when virus-contaminated fibrinogen were administered to women giving birth.
The health ministry was able to identify only 10 infected people during the hearing of the case.