Ban 30 medicines, doctor urges


THE leader of the Portuguese Medical Association has said the human equivalent of mad cow disease could be contracted from certain medicines containing cattle products and called for their banning.

"We do not wish to spread alarm, but we are concerned that the disease is much more likely to be spread by using these medicines than by eating beef," Dr Carlos Ribeiro told TSF radio.

He said the Portuguese Medical Association would press for the ban on some 30 medicines during a meeting with the Health Minister, Ms Maria de Belem Roseira.

Doctors said the ban should cover medicines containing cattle offal, which are used to treat obesity in humans.

Meanwhile, Japanese scientists reported yesterday they had found an important role for the mysterious brain protein linked to BSE and a related human illness. They said their findings could shed light on what causes BSE and the human equivalent, Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD).

Mr Shigeru Katamine, a bacteriologist at the Nagasaki School of Medicine, said mice genetically bred so they did not have the protein showed symptoms markedly similar to the brain infection - and had extensive brain damage themselves. Their findings, published in the science journal Nature, added to evidence that the proteins, known as prions, have a role in such diseases.