Prosecutors call for prison terms for growth hormone doctors

Prosecutors have called for a three-year prison sentence for a biochemist accused of causing the wrongful death of 119 people to whom he administered tainted growth hormones in the 1980s. The months-long appeals trial ends Wednesday against Fernand Dray and other medical staff involved in administering the hormones.


"Professor Dray’s specific fault is an accumulation of imprudence and negligence," said prosecutor Bruno Sturlese, who asked for the maximum sentence for Dray.

The 88-year-old is the former head of a laboratory at the prestigious Pasteur Institute, which manufactured the growth hormone. Dray’s lawyers have called for a dismissal of the charges.

Prosecutors are also calling for six to nine months of prison for paediatrician Elisabeth Mugnier, 61, for involuntary homicide.

The hormone, which was manufactured from the glands from unregulated cadavers, turned out to transmit Creutzfeldt-Jakob (MCJ) disease. It was administered to 1,698 children between 1980 and 1988.

Victims have already received some 31 million euros in damages from the government.

Families of those who took the hormones have been involved in court cases against the manufacturers and administrators for almost 20 years to prove that they acted with the knowledge that the drug was infected.

The judge in the first case against Dray determined there was not enough evidence that he acted knowingly, and he was acquitted in January 2009.

The appeals case ends Wednesday, and a verdict is not expected before the spring.

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