Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has decided to have the Diet enact a law to pay “uniform” compensation to everyone infected with hepatitis C from tainted blood products. His decision represents an effort to “achieve a breakthrough” in stalled negotiations over a court-mediated settlement of damage suits filed against the state and drug makers by hepatitis C sufferers. The decision is welcome, although it appears aimed at stemming the falling approval rate of his administration. About 10,000 people reportedly have been infected with hepatitis C due to the use of tainted blood products. The ruling and opposition parties must cooperate toward quick enactment of the necessary law.
In and after 2002, a total of 207 people who had been infected with hepatitis C virus mainly through the use of the blood-clotting agent fibrinogen filed lawsuits for compensation with lower courts in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Sendai and Nagoya. By September 2007, four of the five courts had ruled that both the state and drug makers bear responsibility for the health damage.
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