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Gov't to preserve medical records of recipients of dura mater.

TOKYO, March 19 Kyodo

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi said Tuesday the ministry will ask medical institutions across the nation to preserve medical records of patients who underwent transplants of dura mater.

The ministry decided to preserve such patients' medical records to prepare for future Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) cases, considering the nearly 20-year incubation period of the disease, as medical records are usually required to be kept for five years.

Preserving such medical records will help the ministry confirm when infected dura mater was transplanted to patients who may develop the disease.

Sakaguchi announced the plan at a session of the House of Councillors' Health, Welfare and Labor Committee held in the day.

The preservation of such patients' medical records was also requested in damages lawsuits filed against the government with the Tokyo and Otsu district courts.

According to a survey by the former Health and Welfare Ministry, a total of up to 500,000 tainted dura mater products were imported to Japan between 1973 and 1997, and about 200,000 people are believed to have undergone transplant operations.

The Japanese government gave the green light for the import in 1973 and ordered a recall of the products in 1997.

Roughly half of all imported dura mater was produced before countermeasures to prevent CJD infection were applied in 1987. Some of these unchecked products have been kept in inventory and used at some medical institutions since that year.

In Japan, 76 people have been confirmed as CJD patients who contracted the disease from infected dura mater and the number is expected to increase.

Based on a court-brokered settlement by the two courts, the plaintiffs and the central government are expected to exchange a document to confirm the settlement within this month and the document will include the preservation of the patients' medical records.

The ministry will notify prefectural medical associations and other related organs promptly after the settlement is formally reached.

CJD is a fatal brain disorder for which there is no known cure. It typically leads to death in one or two years.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Mar 25, 2002
Words:346
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