Monday, May 28, 2007

Are You a Guinea Pig?

WARNING: This post contains links to materials which are severely disturbing, including information on and photographs of horrific experiments carried out in the death camps of Europe during the Nazi era.

Larisa Alexandrovna's blog at-Largely has a disturbing look at medical experiments carried out on unwitting and thus non-consenting patients at a variety of hospitals throughout the United States. Previous studies have shown an increase in deaths due to the experimental treatments. Patients in critical condition have (without knowledge or consent) been given substandard treatments that have literally cost them their lives.

Despite ongoing investigations of previous such studies, the federal government will undertake a new 5-year study involving as many as 20,000 patients in the U.S. and Canada, who will also be given experimental treatments without their knowledge or consent.

These experiments have been approved under new FDA regulations that partially overturn the 50-year-old Nuremberg Code, which, in light of the human experimentation carried out by the Nazis, instituted regulations requiring patients to grant informed consent before being included in medical experiments.

It would be easy to see the Nazi experiments as singular, unrepeatable events and to view those who carried them out as so inhuman, so psychologically disturbed that their behavior could never predict anything that could happen elsewhere. Unfortunately, we must remember that these men were extensively tested and found to be psychologically normal. We must also remember that horrific human experiments and other medical crimes were also carried out in the United States in Tuskegee, state and federal prisons, and in a variety of hospitals, mental institutions, military instillations, and residential areas. What is more, we must remember that Nazi doctors on trial at Nuremberg cited many of these experiments as justification for their own crimes.

The government's decision to ignore the lessons of our unfortunate history and to go forward with experiments on human beings without consideration of their safety and basic rights and in full violation of the long-standing principles of medical ethics is a crime against not only the American people but against any foreign peoples whose governments may take inspiration and justification from our acts.

For anyone who may be interested, the Alliance for Human Research Protection provides great information on the history of human research, the current conflicts of interest and corruption effecting current research, and the fight to protect informed consent as the standard for all human research.

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