Written by By Thasana Limonata, CNN Tokyo, Japan
A major Japanese media organization has launched a rare public investigation after an unnamed doctor allegedly published photos of patients with exposed ovaries and bowel tissue.
Covidizer, an otic elastomer used as a booster medication in Japan , was sold under the brand name Covil. It is manufactured by Okinawa Otic Ester
The Japanese Pharmaceuticals Association — a government-industry partnership — says it has launched an investigation into the source of the photos, which have been reported on a website.
In a statement, it noted, “We will thoroughly investigate and respond as necessary to the inquiry.”
The Health Ministry has issued a statement saying it, too, is investigating possible violations of the General Register, an information supervisory register for the Japanese pharmaceuticals industry.
Japan’s Covidizer center confirmed to CNN that it is carrying out a criminal investigation into the source of photos. The factory — a facility that produces the drug for distribution all over Japan — is located in the Oma prefecture in the southern island of Okinawa.
Ester is currently suspended. The plant’s operating license was revoked in August, after the ministry said it was involved in a “recruitment scandal.”
The suspension of Covidizer’s license has led to two other problems: In January, the trust of Japanese patients was cast into doubt when they believed Covidizer and Ester were falsely marketed as the proper treatment for ovarian cancer.
After a series of announcements by the Food and Drug Administration, it was eventually determined the drugs did not reduce the risk of cancer and were unlikely to stop it.
Since the first claims were made, patients have continued to use Ester.
The allegations have caused concern to many in the local healthcare industry.
“I am bewildered that the ministry has not solved the problem yet,” Yukio Tobara, a local administrator from Ovarian Cancer Yokota Medical Center, told CNN in July.
“We are among the top hospitals in Okinawa.”