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.”…

Tuskegee 626… In Guatemala!

Seems that rural black folks weren’t the only ones used in unethical scientific experiments… What you have to realize – is in the 30′s and 40′s and even into the 60′s – our medical and scientific community really wan’t all that different from Hitler’s.

U.S. apologizes for syphilis experiment in Guatemala

The United States apologized on Friday for an experiment conducted in the 1940s in which U.S. government medical researchers deliberately infected Guatemalan prison inmates with syphilis.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other top officials issued a statement about the experiment, which echoed the infamous 1960s Tuskegee study in which black American men were deliberately left untreated for syphilis.

“The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical,” the statement reads.

“Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices.”

The experiments, aimed at testing whether penicillin could prevent syphilis, were discovered by Susan Reverby, professor of women’s studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

“In 1946-48, Dr. John C. Cutler, a Public Health Service physician who would later be part of the Syphilis Study in Alabama in the 1960s and continue to defend it two decades after it ended in the 1990s, was running a syphilis inoculation project in Guatemala, co-sponsored by the PHS, the National Institutes of Health, the Pan American Health Sanitary Bureau (now the Pan American Health Organization), and the Guatemalan government,” she wrote.

“It was the early days of penicillin and the PHS was deeply interested in whether penicillin could be used to prevent, not just cure, early syphilis infection, whether better blood tests for the disease could be established, what dosages of penicillin actually cured infection, and to understand the process of re-infection after cures.”

The prison inmates were deliberately infected by prostitutes, but were treated with penicillin afterwards.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said regulation prohibited such “risky and unethical” research today.

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