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Fukuda pushes bill to aid tainted blood victims

Fukuda pushes bill to aid tainted blood victims

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said yesterday his ruling bloc will submit legislation providing aid to hundreds of people exposed to hepatitis C through products that a pharmaceutical company sold despite knowing they were possibly tainted.
"I hope the bill will be passed quickly and want everyone to feel relieved soon," Fukuda said at the Prime Minister's Office, as he seeks to resolve the scandal that has prompted public anger.
About 200 patients have filed lawsuits in courts across Japan, demanding compensation from the government and drug makers Nihon Pharmaceutical Co., Mitsubishi Pharma Corp. and the latter's subsidiary Benesis Corp.
Four of the five courts have ordered the defendants - the government and drug makers - to compensate dozens of patients and the Osaka High Court issued a settlement proposal in November. The two sides have since attempted to reach an out-of-court settlement, although negotiations have bogged down over how the plaintiffs would be compensated.
Fukuda did not give any details about the legislation, such as how patients will be compensated.
The plaintiffs say they contracted hepatitis C while using defective blood-clotting medicines, mostly in the 1980s and claim that the government and the drug-makers continued to use the medicine, called fibrinogen, despite their knowledge that the product was potentially contaminated.
"We have always wanted uniform compensation after they acknowledge their responsibility so I am very glad that the prime minister and the government accept our wish," said Satoko Kuwata, one of the plaintiffs.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease that affects the liver and is often transmitted through contact with infected blood.
An estimated 2 million Japanese have contracted the disease, many through tainted blood products, media reports say.


Updated : 2021-04-17 05:20 GMT+08:00