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Japan Settles Brain Disease Case

Mar 25, 2002 | AP The Japanese government agreed Monday to pay $1.2 million to a group of patients who contracted the brain-wasting Creutzfelt-Jacob disease from contaminated transplant tissue.

The patients said they were infected with CJD — the human variant of mad cow disease — from surgically implanted dura mater, a membrane that covers the brain.

Japanese health authorities allowed the dura mater to be imported from a German medical company between 1973 and 1997, despite a 1987 warning from U.S. authorities that the tissue was linked to the illness.

Defendants in the case included the Japanese government, the German firm B. Braun Melsungen AG and the Japanese importer Nihon BSS.

Under the settlement, 20 patients will receive a total compensation of $8.8 million. The Japanese government will pay $1.2 million, Health Ministry official Toshiyuki Nomura said. The importer and manufacturer had earlier agreed to split the remainder.

Twenty-one other patients who filed a similar lawsuit are still finalizing the compensation amount they're seeking, Nomura said.

Under Monday's out-of-court settlement, the government also will pay a yet-to-be-specified amount of compensation to patients not included in the lawsuits.

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