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Last Plaintiff in HIV-tainted Blood Scandal Reaches Settlement

From Japan Economic Newswire (May 17, 2011)

TOKYO, May 17 -- (Kyodo) _ The last plaintiff from more than 1,000 who sought damages from the Japanese government and five drugmakers over their infection with HIV through tainted blood products reached a court-managed settlement with the defendants Monday, judicial sources said Tuesday.

The settlement at the Tokyo District Court brought an end to a 22-year-long court battle over transmission of the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus through tainted blood products after the first group of plaintiffs filed a damages suit in 1989.

The sources said the defendants will pay 28 million yen in damages to the plaintiff who filed suit with the court in 2008, more than 20 years after the tainted blood products were administered to him.

Lawyers for plaintiffs in the series of suits over HIV infection said a total of 1,384 plaintiffs have reached compromise agreements with the defendants. There are no plans for further such lawsuits, they said.

In the tainted blood product scandal, a large number of people, mainly those with hemophilia, contracted HIV virus through the use of unheated blood products in the 1980s.

In 1996, a landmark compromise settlement was reached at the Tokyo District Court between more than 400 plaintiffs and the government and the pharmaceutical companies. At that time, current Prime Minister Naoto Kan was health minister.

Among the five drugmakers named as defendants is the now-defunct Green Cross Corp., now part of Mitsubishi Pharma Corp. and Baxter Ltd., the Japan subsidiary of Baxter International Inc. of the United States.

Last month, three plaintiffs reached an agreement to settle a damages suit against Baxter at the Osaka District Court, leaving only one defendant at the Tokyo court yet to reach a compromise settlement.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday it would continue to support people infected with the HIV virus through the tainted blood products.


Posted: May 2011

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