Albion Monitor /Commentary

[Editor's note: Many recent examples of unregulated human experimentation can be found, such as the report on contraceptive tests on E Indian women found in our last issue.

Similar tests have also been conducted in the United States. According to a recent article by James Terry that appeared in Kansas City New Times, from 1989 to 1991 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente of California tested an experimental, high-potency version of a measles vaccine on 1,200 minority infants.

Terry wrote, "...The vaccine, it turns out, suppresses the immune system for up to three years after immunization. During those three years the child faces increased risk of contracting -- and dying from -- other infectious diseases. The mortality rate for the children immunized with the high-titer E.Z. vaccine was 20 percent higher than it was for children immunized with the standard-strength EZ vaccine. In one study the mortality rate was 80 percent higher. Girls seemed particularly susceptible to infection after inoculation."

Last month CDC director Dr. David Satcher told the House Subcommittee on Human Resources that "the consent form was deficient in that the EZ measles vaccine was not identified as experimental, and parents were not given an adequate description of the foreseeable results...."]

Unregulated Experiments On Humans

by Jim Hightower

Drug companies can set-up its own ethical review board to approve the ethics of its own experiments
As Native-American activist Vine Deloria said: "Sure you can trust the government. Ask an Indian."

From Agent Orange to Gulf War syndrome, from DDT to Mad Cow disease, we've learned the hard way that our watchdog agencies often turn out to be lapdogs, protecting higher-ups or the industries they supposedly are overseeing.

For example, medical experimentation on humans. That's highly-regulated, right? After all that publicity about the dastardly "Tuskegee Study" on African-American men, the exposure of soldiers and civilians to Atomic blasts, those radiation experiments on indigent hospital patients -- didn't congress put a halt to treating us humans like lab rats?

Sorry, Little Nellie Sunshine, they did not. Our lawmakers did pass a law in 1974, but they left loopholes big enough for Dr. Frankenstein to drive through. For example, they exempted most of the human studies financed by private companies. So, American men, women and children today are being subjected to medical experiments that are totally unregulated. The regulatory authorities do not know how many of these experiments are underway, what is being done to the unsuspecting patients or what happens to them. When there is a complaint, the government has no authority to investigate, much less to punish.

Instead of having to get a government OK to conduct, say, a test of a new drug on a group of children, the drug company researcher can set-up its own ethical review board to approve the ethics of its own experiments.

Guinea Pigs of the World, unite! Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut is considering legislation to close these loopholes on human experimentation. To support the effort, call his office on 202-225-5541.

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor June 17, 1997 (

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