Nycomed threatens legal action over CJD claims

Nycomed Amersham, the British healthcare giant, yesterday blasted the Hong Kong authorities and media for spreading panic after they accused it of exposing hospital patients to the threat of infection with Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease (CJD), the human form of mad cow disease.

Andrew Yates in London

and Stephen Vines in Hong Kong report.

Nycomed is considering legal action over suggestions that one of its products had encouraged the spread of CJD. The problem arose after traces of possible contamination were found in the fluid given to more than 100 patients undergoing scans and gastric tests for heart and lung diseases. Seven of these people have since died.

Nycomed withdrew the Pulmonate kits after it suspected that they could contain blood extracted from a CJD victim which was mixed in with other blood to form albumin.

This is a protein extracted from blood which is part of the liquid injected in patients to assist in tests for various heart and lung diseases. However it is still not known how exactly CJD is transmitted and there is no known case of transmission through blood.

A Nycomed spokesman said: "There is no evidence that CJD can be transmitted by blood. There is not the remotest possibility that these seven people could have died of CJD even if our products were riddled with it. This has caused damage to us and is quite without foundation. We are lining up the lawyers."

Nycomed's shares fell 25p to 2370p yesterday after the story broke in Hong Kong overnight.

It remains unclear how the contaminated blood came to be used in the kits but it is more than likely that the blood donor was unaware of the infection. The kits were used in Hong Kong between July and December of last year. None of the patients have reported signs of illness.

The Hong Kong authorities did emphasise that the warning to patients who have used the kits was "purely a precautionary measure". The amount of CJD contamination was not proven, they said, and there was an extremely low chance of infection. Nevertheless they decided to go public "after balancing patients' rights to know and the possibility of causing undue anxiety to them".

Nycomed is highly critical of the decision. "We regret the public alarm in Hong Kong. It has probably caused a greater threat to public health than could ever be caused by our products and CJD," said the spokesman.

When CJD takes hold it causes fatal nervous disorders and more than 20 people in Britain have already died from this illness. However the incubation period for CJD is 10 years, and it can take up to 30 years to develop.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms