Japanese High Court Reduces Sentences of Two Men Convicted of Negligence for Supplying HIV-Tainted Blood Products in 1980s
The Osaka, Japan, High Court yesterday reduced the prison sentences of two former executives with Green Cross Corp., once Japan's largest supplier of blood products, who were convicted of negligence resulting in death for supplying HIV-tainted blood products in the 1980s, Agence France-Presse reports. Renzo Matsushita and Tadakazu Suyama had asked the court to suspend their sentences because the blood-clotting factors, which infected 1,431 people, most of them hemophiliacs, were "indispensable" for the treatment of the disease. They added that there was "no definite awareness" in 1985 that unheated blood products posed a risk of HIV and noted that the health ministry had not ordered the company to recall the products. The high court rejected the request to commute their sentences but did reduce Matsushita's sentence from two years to one year and six months and Suyama's sentence from one year and six months to one year and two months. In 1989, a group of infected patients sued Green Cross and the government for negligence. The courts ruled that Green Cross should have been aware in January 1986 when new safer, heated products went on the market that unheated blood products posed a risk of HIV. The unheated products were eventually recalled in December 1986. As of May 2001, 536 of the 1,431 people infected with HIV through the blood products had died (Agence France-Presse, 8/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.