Japan bans shingles drug after deaths

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 10 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:627
  1. H Gurdon

    Nippon Shoji, a Japanese pharmaceutical company that marketed a drug for shingles but hid the fact that three people had died in clinical trials, has been shut down for three months by the government in Tokyo. Fifteen patients are alleged to have died within weeks of taking the drug when it first went on sale last autumn. The case has focused attention on Japan's lax system of testing drugs and on a medical profession that has been accused of sacrificing safety in the pursuit of profit.

    No criminal charges have been brought against Nippon Shoji's executives, and the drug, sorivudine, will still be available to those hospitals equipped to deal with its side effects. Sorivudine, which was marketed under the name Usevir, …

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