Chantix, the popular smoking cessation drug is back in the news as lawsuits against the drug maker mount in both state and federal courts. In 2008, investigations by ABC News and The Washington Times found that mentally distressed veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited for government tests on pharmaceutical drugs linked to suicide and other violent side effects. Members of Congress called for an immediate suspension of the government tests citing nearly 40 suicides and more than 400 incidents of suicidal behavior linked to Chantix.
The Veteran Administration website stated the following:
"".our research is to learn if it is easier to stop smoking when smoking cessation treatment is combined with PTSD therapy".patients are receiving treatment recommended by their own doctors using counseling with or without FDA approved medication".Participation in this program is voluntary".". Pfizer maintains that 'the benefits of Chantix outweigh the risks".
Perhaps you recall when news broke recently that from 1946-1948, U.S. government researchers deliberately infected Guatemalan prison inmates, women and mental patients with syphilis in experiments aimed at testing penicillin. The United States apologized, but it was an apology that rang hollow to me. Human experimentation in the United States has a long history.
In 1946, Nazi doctors were executed for performing experiments that forced humans to drink seawater, suffer castration, be infected with spotted fever and other pathogens, while at the same time the United States found it justifiable to inject hospital patients with plutonium, allow hundreds of poor sharecroppers in Tuskegee, Alabama to wither away with syphilis while effective treatment was withheld and retarded orphans were given breakfast cereal in milk laced with radioactive calcium at the Walter E. Fernald State School in Massachusetts.
From 1913 to 1951, Dr. Leo Stanley, chief surgeon at the San Quentin Prison, performed testicular implants on hundreds of prisoners. He removed the testicles of executed prisoners and surgically implanted them into living prisoners. He also attempted to implant the testicles of rams, goats, and boars into living prisoners. A eugenicist, Stanley believed his experiments would rejuvenate old men, control crime, and prevent the "unfit" from reproducing.
In 1962, Chester M. Southam injected twenty-two elderly patients at the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in Brooklyn with live cancer cells in order to "discover the secret of how healthy bodies fight the invasion of malignant cells". The state medical licensing board placed
Southam on probation for one year. Two years later he was elected Vice President of the American Cancer Society.
Between 1953 and 1972, the CIA conducted secret experiments on human subjects under project MK-Ultra. the brainchild of Richard Helms, who would later became CIA director. The program was developed for the covert use of biological and chemical materials" for the control of human behavior. There was no congressional oversight.
Since most of the records were deliberately destroyed in
1973, the full scope of the experiments may never be known. What we do
know is experiments involved
electro-shock treatment, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation,
of psychoactive drugs, psychosurgery, the effects of radiation, the
chemicals and biological weapons on American city, streets,
and "mind control", interrogation and torture techniques. For
experimental subjects, researchers often used mental patients, ethnic
drug addicts, prisoners and those who were less likely to defending
Until 1974, the Holmesburg State Prison in Pennsylvania was the site of extensive dermatological research, led by Dr. Albert M. Kligman of the University of Pennsylvania.
The studies were performed on behalf of Dow Chemical Company, the U.S. Army, and Johnson & Johnson. The experiments included radioactive isotopes, LSD, BZ, infectious diseases and a variety of drug-company products. In one of the studies, Kligman injected dioxin, a highly toxic, carcinogenic component of Agent Orange into prisoners who developed severe lesions and a variety of health problems, including lupus and psychological damage. Still other experiments were aimed at "creating temporary psychotic states in subjects" for the purposes of "disturbing a person's psyche" and "inducing violent behavior."
CIA tests included efforts to come up with a compound that could simulate a heart attack or a stroke in targeted individuals. One of the drugs tested at Holmesburg, " produced "delirium and other psychotic behavior lasting from three to four days with subsequent amnesia. Could a person be programmed to kill a "target" on a subliminal command? Is "The Manchurian Candidate" just a movie?
In 2004, the New York Press reported that poor Black and Hispanic children who were wards of the state were subjects of AIDS research. The research was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in conjunction with some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies -- GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Genentech, Chiron/Biocine and others.
The drugs were known to cause genetic mutation, organ failure, bone marrow death, bodily deformations, brain damage and fatal skin disorders. In 2003, two children, ages 6 and 12, had debilitating strokes due to drug toxicities. The 6-year-old went blind. They both died shortly after. Another 14-year old died. An 8-year-old boy had two plastic surgeries to remove large, fatty, drug-induced lumps from his neck. The investigation served as the basis for the BBC film "Guinea Pig Kids,":
Despite the danger, today there is a growing subculture of people who make their living volunteering to be test subjects. According to Circare, a human research watchdog organization, scientist require at least 10 million healthy subjects annually. Depending on duration and risk, medical research studies can pay as much as $10,000 each.