Friday, June 17, 2005

I thought it was the Environmental PROTECTION Agency…

This morning, like most mornings, I launched my email program and waited for nuggets of news to find their way to my enquiring mind.

Some days are dry. Today is wet like the BC rainforest.

Both the Washington Post and New York Times delivered news I’d expect to read on CNN, the shock value of these two pieces are so high.

Here are excerpts from the Washington Post article: EPA Using Data From Chemical Tests on Humans

The Environmental Protection Agency is using data from two dozen tests that deliberately exposed humans to toxic chemicals to help determine whether to approve new pesticides, according to a study released yesterday by congressional Democrats.

Democratic staffers surveyed 24 tests conducted between 1967 and 2004, most in the past decade, that the EPA is reviewing as it evaluates applications to market new pesticides. They concluded that nearly one-third of the tests "were specifically designed to cause harm to human test subjects or put them at risk of harm," and in many cases "the informed consent forms used in the experiments do not appear to meet ethical standards."

The scientists conducting the tests frequently ignored the fact that they were putting their subjects -- who were often students or minorities -- at risk, the report said. In one case, three dozen subjects took an insecticide pill with orange juice at breakfast; in another, eight people received a dose of a toxic insecticide for 28 days, during which time all eight "experienced adverse events, including headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, coughing and a rash. The researchers declared that every single adverse event was unrelated to dosing."

And excerpts from the New York Times article: Drug Trials on Children Broke Rules, Officials Say

Federal officials have found that a Columbia University Medical Center committee that oversees the use of patients as subjects in medical research violated federal regulations in the 1990's in the case of four research projects. In the projects, experimental drugs were tested in children, including foster children, with AIDS or who were H.I.V.-positive.

The Office for Human Research Protections informed Columbia in a letter last month that the medical center's institutional review board had "failed to obtain sufficient information" concerning the selection of foster children as subjects, the process for getting their parents' or guardians' permission and certain additional safeguards.

The findings come at a time when questions have been raised nationally about the participation of foster children in drug trials during the 1980's and 1990's, when hundreds of babies in New York City alone were born H.I.V.-positive and when there were at first no treatments approved for children.

Disclosure: I snipped several paragraphs from each article, including the “we did nothing wrong” quotes. And maybe these researchers did not do anything unethical. Fact is, minorities, students, foster children, the elderly, even soldiers are often the targets for drug experiments. This we know. (And this is today, in the USA. Human experiments did not die with Hitler and the Nazis.)

I’ll never forget the researcher who came into my mother-in-law’s hospital room, two hours before her triple by-pass. The researcher had left a two-page document for mom to read, requesting her participation in an experimental dosage of one of the drugs that is used during a heart by-pass.

Her heart attack had been a total surprise. She was in the process of having her newly-written will witnessed by hospital employees, and she was being asked to participate in a drug test that was being presented in what I would call, an unethical way.

Given her not-very-clear-state-of-mind, she had decided that it was in humanity's best interest for her to participate. I flipped when I read the document.

I can’t recall all the details, but it made a statement about how an increase in the dosage of the drug in question of say, 20% did not harm lab rats. But later in the document it indicated that the experiment was to increase the dosage of the drug by over 100% in my mom-in-law…I was appalled at the lack of integrity being shown in this situation.

Expendable lives… those old people would have died soon anyway… those poor people would have had a lousy quality of life had they lived… those soldiers signed an “I won’t sue for injuries” statement… those babies have a low economic value, so we can afford to lose the lawsuit… those foster kids aren't wanted anyway… PAH!


Blogger Greg Mills said...

that story about your mom makes me very, very mad.

June 17, 2005  
Blogger Donna said...

imagine how we felt...

the lesson here to everyone is,
If you have a loved one in hosptial, make sure someone in your family can be there to be an advocate for your loved one's best interests.

June 18, 2005  
Blogger Herbinator said...

Two comments:

1) medical ethics; military intelligence.

2) My mother had a heart attack. Now she's on every charity mailing list, and is phoned every evening (sometimes several times) by "medical" fundraisers. They have no shame.

June 18, 2005  
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