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History of US medical experiments on humans revealed

Published time: February 28, 2011 19:28
Edited time: March 01, 2011 18:29

Report shows US government doctors previously conducted medical experiments on the disabled and prison inmates.

Experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients, spraying pandemic flu up the noses of Maryland inmates, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill patients at a New York hospital. In many cases, the studies involved making healthy people sick.

The events took place over 40 to 80 year ago, but are serving as a backdrop to a meeting of the presidential bioethics commission in Washington.

A review of past medical journals by the AP revealed at least 40 studies in which human experimentation was used. In some cases, the search was for medical treatments, in others, curiosity and experimental satisfaction.

The report by AP explained the studies violated the concept of "first do no harm," a basic medical principle that has often been the rule.

"When you give somebody a disease — even by the standards of their time — you really cross the key ethical norm of the profession," Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, told AP.

The studies were largely ignored by the masses, if made public, and those which received attention were often addressed by the media as necessary means to greater medical discovery.

Government officials have acknowledged there were dozens of such experiments across the US.