Professor Unearths NIH Roots

October 4, 2010

5 Oct – Wash DC – Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized for virologists who deliberately infected hundreds of men and women with syphilis and gonorrhea during Tuskegee-like experiments conducted in Guatemala between 1946-1948. 

The revelations are based upon Prof. Susan Reverby’s investigation into the NIH-funded experiments by virologists John C. Cutler and George Shattuck.  Their assumptions about race and venereal disease followed them from Tuskegee to Guatemala, where they conducted secret experiments in military barracks, mental hospitals and an orphanage without the consent of their victims or families.

To obtain cooperation, Cutler’s team delivered drugs, a refrigerator, movie projector and kitchen utensils to local officials.   Virologists then convinced their victims to cooperate, plying them with cigarettes before administering infectious inoculations, blood draws, spinal taps and applying syphilitic puss into abraded penises and cervixes.  Researchers also hired prostitutes who, if not already sick, were deliberately infected before sex with targeted inmates.

Like Tuskegee, Dr. Cutler’s team told trusting patients that their infectious syphilis injections were actually a drug treatment designed to improve their health.

Prof. Reverby writes that the virologists “knew that secrecy, and even law-breaking was sometimes necessary to further research,” quoting the father of virology who later explained:

(I)t’s against the law to do many things, but the law winks when a reputable man wants to do a scientific experiment.  For example, the criminal code of the City of New York holds that is a felony to inject a person with infectious material. Well, I tested out live yellow fever vaccine right on my ward in the Rockefeller Hospital. It was no secret, and I assure you that the people in the New York City Department of Health knew it was being done.  Unless the law winks occasionally, you have no progress in medicine.

Unfortunately, her revelations are not as important as what her report ignores.  These unnecessary acts did not occur in a vacuum.  Dozens – if not hundreds of peer-researchers, supervisors and administrators participated, acquiesced or covered up crimes that occurred in what Reverby describes as the prevailing “culture of research.”

Earlier this year, UMKC professor William Black describes the criminogenic culture this way:

The leading textbook in corporate law… says that rules against fraud (are) neither necessary nor particularly important.  We don’t need laws.  We don’t need an FBI.  We don’t need a Justice Department.  We don’t even need rules like the SEC.  The markets “cleanse themselves” automatically and prevent all frauds…  There is an enormous ideological content and it fits with class and it fits with… political contributions.  Do you want to look at seemingly responsible institutions, which are your leading political contributors, as crooks?

We now have the entitlement generation as CEOs. They just plain feel entitled to being as wealthy as Croesus with no responsibility, no accountability. They have become literal sociopaths… (B)usiness schools, which right now are fraud factories at the senior levels… create the new monsters that take control and destroy massive enterprises…

Honest investigators understand that criminal organizations don’t reform themselves.  Left unchanged, they metastasize (i.e. Bernie Madoff, Enron, Big Tobacco, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, etc.) until a “transformational event” like discovery, indictments and fines interrupt the operations and destroy the enterprise.

Despite 29 pages and 69 references, Reverby gives no indication that anyone was ever held accountable or whether the agencies and management were purged of those who permitted it to happen; which may be why more recent scandals of experimentation and deadly treatments are still not widely reported by the media.  Prof. Reverby’s detached analysis of America’s prurient horror over the “‘bad old days’ of medical research” fails to ask important questions:

  • When did researchers of the “bad old days” surrender their jobs and offices for ethical researchers who were willing to identify, hold accountable or dismiss the corrosive influence of psychopaths and corruption?  If this never occurred;
  • Why do taxpayers continue to spend billions of dollars on agencies like HHS, CDC and NIH when infectious disease became statistically irrelevant by 1955?

Left unanswered, we have a better idea of why the NIH wastes billions of dollars on virologists like John P. Moore PhD and Daniel Kuritzkes MD who libel and threaten critics (2) and encourage journalists to destroy the careers of ethical researchers and journalists while promoting carcinogens that compromise immune function as products that enhance immune function and save lives.  It also explains why the pharmaceutical industry has spent more than $8 billion to settle thousands of criminal and civil complaints since 2004 on behalf of thousands of Americans who are injured or killed by these drugs every year.

In the context of these facts, Guatemala and Tuskegee merely provided the template, rationale and foundation for the deadly quackery of modern virology today.

UPDATE 10 Jan 2012 – US Rejects Guatemala Lawsuit

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