Former Japanese Health Ministry Official Appeals Conviction for Contaminated Blood Product Sales
Former Japanese Health Ministry official Akihito Matsumura on Tuesday appealed his conviction on negligence charges for not stopping the sale of untreated blood products, the Associated Press reports. Matsumura was director of the ministry's blood products-handling biologics and antibiotics division between 1984 and 1986, when the ministry failed to bar the sale of unsterilized blood products despite the knowledge that they might contain HIV. Heat treatment was not approved in Japan until 1985, but some Japanese drug makers continued to sell untreated blood. Since the first half of the 1980s, nearly 1,800 hemophiliacs in Japan have become infected with HIV from unsterilized blood products (Associated Press, 10/9). On Sept. 28, Tokyo District Court ruled that Matsumura was responsible for the AIDS-related deaths of at least one of two hemophiliac and liver patients who received the tainted blood products, and he was sentenced to a year in prison, which was suspended for two years. The case was the third of three negligence trials related to the scandal, which "erupted" in 1989 when a group of infected hemophiliacs sued the government and the companies that supplied the blood products (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/1). The Kyodo News reports that Matsumura's attorneys are appealing the conviction on the grounds that the ruling contained factual errors and that Matsumura did not have the authority to recall blood products (Associated Press, 10/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.