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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 21 - 27  > Court orders state and drug makers to pay damages for hepatitis C virus infection from tainted blood
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2007 March 21 - 27 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Court orders state and drug makers to pay damages for hepatitis C virus infection from tainted blood

March 24, 2007
The Tokyo District Court on March 23 ordered the state and pharmaceutical companies to pay damages to 13 of 21 plaintiffs infected with hepatitis C virus from tainted blood products. It pointed out their failure to regulate these products. These plaintiffs are suffering from either liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Nagano Atsuro pointed out that the state and drug makers neglected their responsibilities by not giving urgent warnings and instructions about the danger of the use of fibrinogen, an unheated blood-clotting agent. Regarding the use of christmassin, the other unheated blood-clotting agent, the judge pointed out the drug maker’s failure to issue warnings and regulating its use after January 1, 1984 despite its awareness of the danger of hepatitis C developing.

The court ordered the state, Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation (formally Green Cross) and two other drug makers to pay between 2.2 million yen and 13.2 million yen in damages to each of the 13 plaintiffs. The court recognized the responsibility of both the state and drug companies for 6 plaintiffs, and the responsibility of only drug makers for 7 plaintiffs.) The plaintiffs were suing for a total of 1,353,000,000 yen in damages.

This is the third ruling that claimed the responsibility for drug-induced hepatitis C of the state and pharmaceutical companies, the previous ones being at the Osaka and Fukuoka district courts, and is the first ruling that recognizes the drug maker’s responsibility for the use christmassin.

There are differences between the three rulings over the period of responsibility. The Osaka court said that Green Cross at the time was responsible for the period after August 1985 and that the state for the period after 1987. The Fukuoka court ruled that both the state and Green Cross at the time were responsible for the period after November 1980.

At a news conference on the same day in Tokyo, Asakura Mitsuko, a plaintiff, stated, “This is the third court ruling that claimed the responsibility of the state and pharmaceutical companies. Using this as a lever, we will make every effort to seek the elimination of dangers from medicines, demand an apology from the state and pharmaceutical companies, and improve the treatment for hepatitis C.”

About 300 people, including plaintiffs, other drug-induced hepatitis victims, and their family members from around the country held a rally in Tokyo following the Tokyo District Court ruling to demand that the state take permanent measures for all hepatitis patients.

Speaking on behalf of the Japanese Communist Party, Koike Akira, a House of Councilors member, said, “The latest ruling can help move this issue forward. The state and all the drug makers concerned must first apologize to all the victims of tainted blood products. The state must fulfill its responsibility to develop permanent measures to relieve all victims of the harmful effects of drugs. We will join forces with other parties to achieve this in the Diet.”
- Akahata, March 24, 2007

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