626… Not Just Tuskeegee

More about medical experiments conducted by the US Government on patients in Guatemala. The studies are chillingly similar to the sort of experimentation done on prisoners by the Nazis and Japanese during WWII.

Black Americans before Civil Rights feared going to hospitals in some parts of the country…

Perhaps for good reason. Dr John Cutler appears to be our very own Dr. Mengele.

Guatemala Experiments: Syphilis Infections, Other Shocking Details Revealed About U.S. Medical Experiments

A presidential panel on Monday disclosed shocking new details of U.S. medical experiments done in Guatemala in the 1940s, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study.

The Guatemala experiments are already considered one of the darker episodes of medical research in U.S. history, but panel members say the new information indicates that the researchers were unusually unethical, even when placed into the historical context of a different era.

“The researchers put their own medical advancement first and human decency a far second,” said Anita Allen, a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

From 1946-48, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau worked with several Guatemalan government agencies to do medical research – paid for by the U.S. government – that involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections in the 1,300 people exposed to syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. Those infected included soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis.

The commission revealed Monday that only about 700 of those infected received some sort of treatment. Also, 83 people died, although it’s not clear if the deaths were directly due to the experiments.

The research came up with no useful medical information, according to some experts. It was hidden for decades but came to light last year, after a Wellesley College medical historian discovered records among the papers of Dr. John Cutler, who led the experiments.

President Barack Obama called Guatemala’s president, Alvaro Colom, to apologize. He also ordered his bioethics commission to review the Guatemala experiments. That work is nearly done. Though the final report is not due until next month, commission members discussed some of the findings at a meeting Monday in Washington.

They revealed that some of the experiments were more shocking than was previously known.

For example, seven women with epilepsy, who were housed at Guatemala’s Asilo de Alienados (Home for the Insane), were injected with syphilis below the back of the skull, a risky procedure. The researchers thought the new infection might somehow help cure epilepsy. The women each got bacterial meningitis, probably as a result of the unsterile injections, but were treated.

Perhaps the most disturbing details involved a female syphilis patient with an undisclosed terminal illness. The researchers, curious to see the impact of an additional infection, infected her with gonorrhea in her eyes and elsewhere. Six months later she died.

Dr. Amy Gutmann, head of the commission, described the case as “chillingly egregious.”…

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