Sign up for our newsletter
Get health tips, wellness advice, and more

Thanks for signing up!
You've been added to our list and will hear from us soon.

See all Healthline's newsletters »
Healthline Connects
Healthline Connects

CJD deaths in France due to contaminated HG hormones

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare neurodegenerative disease. I have only seen one case of it in my career - and it was an forgettable. A young South African physician was reduced to a writhing, wilted mass of humanity, unresponsive and unaware of the world around her, confined to a bed in our ICU. CJD causes rapidly progressing dementia which is fatal within a matter of months after diagnosis. As a student I watched the occasional autopsy and noticed the pathologists harvesting the pituitary glands of the cadavers. I recall asking why but did not receive an answer.

Today, doctors, pharmacists and other medical officials are on trial in France, accused of treating children with tainted growth hormones in the 1980's, resulting in over 100 deaths from CJD. Over 800 more people may be at risk for this terrifying disease. While the US and Britain stopped using growth hormones manufactured from human pituitary glands in 1985 due to concerns about contamination, France continued the practice. Despite warnings in 1980 from scientist Luc Montagnier, the scientist who discovered the AIDS virus. Luminaries from the scientific world, including 1997 Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine, Stanlely Prusiner, who identified prions, are testifying in the trial.

Seventeen years ago, family members brought suit against the medics. They are accused of not disclosing the dangers of treatment to parents and of violating safety practices. Investigators have uncovered evidence that harvested pituitary glands were purchased from Eastern Europe neurological and infectious disease units. A pharmacology professor is accused of taking bribes. If convicted he faces 10 years in prison. CFD symptoms can take 30 years to manifest.

Thank you Goldtoe for use of photo.
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author

The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.