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8.5 Commonwealth Government Response To Senate enquiry



31st March 1998
Recommendation 5. That the settlement offer should not preclude a plaintiff making any future claim in relation to:

(a) other physical illnesses contracted by recipients which may be related to long term side effects of HPH treatment; and

(b) liability should the transmission of CJD, or other illnesses relating to HPH treatment, to immediate family be proven.

Response

The Government notes this recommendation and also that the settlement offer does not preclude a plaintiff making any future claim in relation to physical illnesses contracted by recipients which may be related to long term side effects of pituitary hormone treatment. The settlement offer does not preclude a plaintiff making a future claim that they have contracted CJD, or other illnesses relating to pituitary hormone treatment, as a result of being an immediate family member of a hormone recipient.

Response

(a) The previous Government received a report from Professor Allars in June 1994. In the Report of the Inquiry into the use of Pituitary Derived Hormones in Australia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Associate Professor Allars reported a number of concerns about the operation of the AHPHP and the decisions taken by various advisory committees and departmental officers at the time.

The Commonwealth formally acknowledges that there were some deficiencies in the operation and oversight of the Australian Human Pituitary Hormone Program.

In order to ensure the highest standard in future programs the Commonwealth has adopted most of the recommendations made by Professor Allars.

The Commonwealth acknowledges that it is a great tragedy that some of the people who were treated under the AHPHP have now died as a result of CJD and that a group of Australians now live with the uncertainty of being at risk of contracting CJD. It is deeply regrettable that this tragedy has occurred.

(b) The Government does not acknowledge that treatment administered under the AHPHP was experimental. When hormone products were first issued in 1967 for the treatment of patients approved under the AHPHP, hormone treatment had been in operation overseas since 1958 and in Australia since 1963.