7.2 Letter from Dr Wooldridge
Dr Michael Wooldridge
4 April 1997 COMMONWEALTH SETTLES CJD CLAIM
The Commonwealth Government has settled with the plaintiff (known as APQ) in the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) 'nervous-shock case.
APQ had sought compensation from the Commonwealth Government following treatment under the Australian Human Pituitary Hormone Program (AHPHP). APQ alleged that psychiatric illness occurred (ie nervous shock) upon hearing the news that this treatment had been linked with a risk of contracting CJD.
The Commonwealth denied liability and maintained that it is not liable to pay compensation in respect of APQ's alleged 'nervous shock'. This settlement does not make any such payment. However, the agreed settlement is compassionate, with a commitment by the Commonwealth to compensate APQ in the unlikely event of APQ suffering from CJD at any time in the future.
In agreeing with the settlement, the Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, said he was satisfied with the outcome and felt that it was fair to all parties involved.
"I am pleased that this case could be settled without a long and stressful trial for everyone." Dr Wooldridge said.
"This settlement is a positive outcome for all concerned. The settlement shows compassion in the unlikely event that a human pituitary hormone recipient contracts CJD."
Dr Wooldridge said the Commonwealth Government has acted responsibly to the news of a potential link between human pituitary hormone treatment and CJD.
This settlement is in addition to the range of initiatives currently supporting recipients of human pituitary hormones in Australia. These initiatives include further research into the occurrence of CJD and the disease itself and the establishment of a generous trust account which has been providing recipients with counselling and a national support group network for the past four years.
The trust account also covers medical and other care costs if a person treated under the AHPHP contracts CJD. This settlement does not preclude APQ from receiving further assistance from the trust account.
Vicky Anderson, Dr V~ooldridge's Office (06) 277 7220