The Hepatitis C Epidemic: A 15-Year Government Cover-up

Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Hepatitis C is a devastating, often fatal illness that can cause both cirrhosis and liver cancer. This in-depth probe by Fuji Television Network’s investigative team brought to light a disturbing link between Hepatitis C, contaminated drugs, an unethical pharmaceutical company, and governmental indifference. During the 1970s, the anti-clotting agent Fibrinogen, made from human blood plasma, lost its FDA certification in the U.S. because the purity of the plasma could not be guaranteed. In Japan, however, Fibrinogen was still being sold years after the U.S. ban took effect. Reports alleging a link between Fibrinogen and Hepatitis C led to the voluntary removal of Fibrinogen from Japanese clinics in the 1980s. Thereafter, the pharmaceutical maker and the Japanese government asserted that Fibrinogen was no longer in use in Japan. Fuji Television’s investigative team, led by Reporter Michiyo Kudo and Videographers Tomohiro Kusama and Katsuaki Hayashi, discovered that Fibrinogen was still in stock in some clinics as late as 2001. Through extensive laboratory analysis commissioned by Fuji Television, it was found that each sample of the drug obtained by the investigative team was contaminated with the Hepatitis C virus. Contaminated plasma was made into Fibrinogen and sold to Japanese health care providers, who unknowingly infected untold numbers of the Japanese public. As a result of this investigation, patients in Tokyo and Osaka who were infected through Fibrinogen filed a class action suit against the pharmaceutical maker and the Japanese government. Producer Mitsuyoshi Atsuta, Director Hidetoshi Osaka and Writer/Director Michihiko Iwasawa have assembled a disturbing and powerful portrait of a tragedy. For its courageous investigation into a national health scandal, a Peabody Award goes to Fuji Television Network, Inc. for The Hepatitis C Epidemic: A 15-Year Government Cover-up.