Government allowed continued sale of dura mater to cause CJD

Japanese Communist Party Dietmember Koike Akira has exposed the fact that Nippon B.S.S., a pharmaceutical company, continued selling the drug dura mater even after it had learned of the danger of its causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and that the former Health and Wealth Ministry actually allowed it.

Koike took up this issue in the House of Councilors Health and Welfare Committee meeting on June 26.

Quoting a report the company submitted to the ministry, Koike said that in 1987, the company was informed by German B Brown Co. of a U.S. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review (MMWR) article carrying details on contamination by the use of dura mater that caused CJD. Completely ignoring this, the company continued selling the product so that the money could be paid to the then president as a retirement allowance.

Koike showed a former H&W ministry document of November 1996 on a briefing by the company. The ministry released this document at the request of the lawyers of CJD patients/plaintiffs in a suit against the state and the drug company based on the Free Access to Information Law.

Koike, a doctor, denounced the ministry for concealing the evidence. He asked if the ministry works for the benefit of corporations rather than the people's health and welfare. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry (H&L&W) director acknowledged the material, but Minister Sakaguchi Chikara only said that since necessary information was already made public, the ministry is not responsible for it. The conclusion on state responsibility for the case will be settled in court, he added.

Based on the ministry's internal document, Koike revealed the fact that dura mater had been reserved by Japan's medical institutes till 1996, almost ten years after the U.S. FDA warned of its danger in April 1987. A H&L&W official in answer said that the ministry's efforts to recall them were insufficient.

Koike called for summoning the drug company chair as a witness before the House intensive deliberations on the CJD issue.

An association of supra-partisan Dietmembers was established on June 26 to deal with the CJD problem, and JCP Koike became one of the association directors. (end)