A proper process for xenotransplantation

  • David Cunliffe

The Minister of Health David Cunliffe today reaffirmed that a proper and rigorous process is underway in consideration of the xenotransplantation application by Living Cells Technology (LCT).

He noted that as LCT is a publicly listed company, the process is also bound by the requirements of the Securities Act.

“The key issues under consideration include the level and nature of stakeholder consultation and a final assessment of risk factors.

“The decision is a complex one in part because the high probability of a positive impact on a limited number of diabetes sufferers needs to be balanced against the low probability of a potentially very serious porcine retrovirus, affecting a broader population.”

“The risk factors are hard to quantify but the government is taking any risk factor very seriously”.

“I am not in the habit of being a rubber stamp where public safety is concerned “, David Cunliffe said.

“The impression left by last night’s Close-up programme that people were dying because I was not prepared to pick up a pen is nothing short of downright unbalanced and unfair. It is utterly misleading that my approval is a mere formality as I have responsibilities for the health and safety of all New Zealanders”.

“I want to make it clear to New Zealand that while the application is for a clinical trial involving only 8 diabetes subjects, there are risks associated with this not only for the subjects but also for the wider public .”

‘Unfortunately last night diabetes sufferers were led to believe that a cure for the disease was being withheld from them Nothing could be further from the truth as this clinical trial is not offering a cure.”

“Quite apart from misrepresenting my position, I am appalled that Close-Up has misled the public on this very serious matter”.

Mr Cunliffe said the story on Close-up was “an advertorial for LCT masquerading as journalism. I am seriously considering a formal complaint under the Broadcasting Act.”