KUMAMOTO – The health ministry Monday inspected the Chemo-Sero-Therapeutic Research Institute, or Kaketsuken, for transporting botulinum toxin without notifying public safety authorities.
The inspection was set to continue through Tuesday.
According to the ministry, the institute based in the city of Kumamoto transported more than 0.1 milligram of botulinum toxin between its offices in Kumamoto Prefecture four times between 2007 and 2015.
The infectious disease law requires anyone transporting 0.1 milligram or more of botulinum toxin to report it to prefectural public safety commissions. The institute did not report the transport on every occasion, ministry officials said.
Because botulinum toxin is highly toxic and could be used in biological terrorism, those who handle it are required to do so under close supervision. The health ministry’s inspection was aimed at checking how Kaketsuken has been handling the toxin.
Kaketsuken said there have been no losses or leaks of botulinum toxin during transport, and that it was cooperating with the inspection.
In an earlier scandal, the institute was accused of a long-running cover-up of the use of unauthorized methods to manufacture blood products.
The ministry plans to hit Kaketsuken with an administrative penalty, which could include a business improvement order.