Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Rockefeller Foundation and Johns Hopkins University are facing a $1 billion lawsuit for roles they had in the 1940s regarding a medical experiment that led to hundreds of Guatemalans being infected with syphilis.
The goal of the experiment was to learn if penicillin was a suitable treatment option for the sexually transmitted disease.
In 2015, about 775 Guatemalan victims and their relatives filed a civil suit, claiming the experiment subjected them and family members to the disease without their consent.
The defense argued that a recent ruling by the Supreme Court that protected foreign entities from answering U.S. human rights abuse lawsuits was also applied to domestic companies. However, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang did not agree with the argument and said the case would move ahead to ensure harmony and allow foreign plaintiffs the chance to get justice.
Wellesley College professor Dr. Susan Reverby discovered notes about the unethical experiment that public health services sexual disease specialist John Charles Culter had still in his possession at the time of his death. According to the notes, mental patients, convicts, prostitutes and soldiers were experimented on.
In 2010, former U.S. President Barack Obama apologized to those affected by the experiment, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called them unethical.
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Recently it was reported by scientists in the journal, BMC Immunology, that decreasing administration of the small pox vaccine is responsible for the exponential growth of HIV/AIDS in the 20th Century. The historical timing is interesting and the possibility that the Small Pox vaccine could protect against HIV is more than interesting as this could give researchers a quantum leap in understanding how to make an effective HIV vaccine. But do the historical facts make sense?
In October 2009, the FDA voted to recommend the expansion of the use of Gardasil, the HPV vaccine already approved for use for girls between the ages of 9-26, to boys of the same age. This approval has sparked controversy on whether it is necessary to vaccinate boys since the strains of HPV that Gardasil protects them from specifically – types 6 and 11 – have an extremely low rate of causing anal and penile cancer. In 2008, the American Cancer Association estimated that about 1,250 men were diagnosed with penile cancer and about 2,020 men were diagnosed with anal cancer.