Olympus execs taking the Fifth during questioning over internal emails — 6 key points

Three senior Olympus executives utilized their right to invoke the Fifth Amendment during questioning over internal company emails, according to Kaiser Health News.

Here are six key points:

1. The executives employed their Fifth Amendment right during depositions on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2016, during a civil case against Olympus. In July 2016, news broke over Olympus' internal emails revealing the company told U.S. executives not to issue a broad warning to hospitals regarding a deadly infection from tainted scopes that was later linked to numerous deaths at major hospitals.

2. Olympus officials allegedly told European customers in January 2013 about a contaminated scope after French and Dutch hospitals reported two-dozen infections. Laura Storms, vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs at Olympus America in Center Valley, Pa., became concerned about a similar outbreak in Pittsburgh, and asked Tokyo officials if they would be communicating the same information to U.S. customers regarding the outbreak.  

3. Susumu Nishina, the company's chief manager for market quality administration, replied via email that it was not necessary "to communicate to all the users actively," because a company assessment of the infection outbreak in Europe found the risk to be acceptable. Mr. Nishina was among the three executrives questioned.

4. The two other executives under questioning include Hisao Yabe and Hiroki Moriyama. Mr. Yabe is in charge of the medical manufacturing improvement division and Mr. Moriyama is actively involved in Olympus' regulatory affairs and quality assurance unit. KHN reports Mr. Moriyama was the manufacturer's contact on various injury reports filed with U.S. regulators concerning scope-related infections.

5. Various patients and their families have filed lawsuits against the company, claiming Olympus' negligence led to the outbreaks and deaths. Federal prosecutors are investigating the company's actions. Investigators may use the emails in future cases against the company.

6. Olympus has maintained that patient safety is a top priority for the company and is working with authorities to address any issues related to infections, KHN reported.

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