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Japanese Drug Company President Resigns Over AIDS Scandal

May 24, 1996

TOKYO (AP) _ The president of a Japanese drug company involved in a scandal over selling blood products tainted with the AIDS virus said Friday he will resign in the fall.

Green Cross Corp. was one of five drug companies sued by hemophiliac patients for selling unsafe blood products in the early to mid-1980s. The Japanese government also was named in the suit.

``To rebuild the company, there should be new management,″ Green Cross President Takehiko Kawano said. ``For that, I think it is better that I step down.″

The company faced a nationwide boycott of its products because of the AIDS scandal. A former Green Cross president, Renzo Matsushita, faces a criminal complaint filed by victims’ families who accuse him of murder.

In March, the drug companies and the government agreed to a settlement to pay the surviving victims and the families of those who have died from AIDS a one-time payment of 45 million yen ($420,000).

Under the settlement, which ended a nearly seven-year court battle, victims who have developed full-blown AIDS will receive 150,000 yen ($1,400) per month for life.

Nearly 2,000 Japanese, mostly hemophiliacs, became infected with HIV through tainted blood products. Activists say more than 400 have died.

The government has admitted that the Health Ministry knew of the risks of the blood products as early as 1983 but waited until 1985 to approve safe heat-treated products.

Other companies involved in the settlement were Japan’s Nippon Zoki Pharmaceutical Co. and Chemo Sero Therapeutic Research Institute; Baxter Ltd., a unit of Chicago-based Baxter International Inc.; and Bayer Yakuhin Ltd., a unit of Germany’s Bayer AG.

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