Editorials

Potential transmission of BSE via medicinal products

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7037.988 (Published 20 April 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:988
  1. E Anne Wickham
  1. Consultant pharmaceutical physician PO Box 246, Canterbury CT4 5YY

    Patients can be reassured that measures are in place to reduce risk

    The identification of 10 cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which seem to represent a new variant,1 and the announcement by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) on 20 March that these cases could be linked to exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, have caused great concern. Patients are worried about the risks of developing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease not only from eating beef but also from medicinal products of bovine origin and are looking to doctors, pharmacists, and pharmaceutical companies for reassurance.

    The risk of transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy via medicinal products depends on whether the infective agent is a human pathogen and on the level of exposure to the agent. To date, no epidemiological link has been made between any spongiform encephalopathy that is transmissible in animals and human disease, despite exposure of humans to the scrapie agent for at least 200 years. This suggests that the risk of transmission to humans is small.2

    Measures aimed at minimising exposure to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies via medicinal products were introduced soon after the report of the …

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