May 30, 2024

Obama calls for investigation into Guatamala STD study

Commission to report in September
President Barack Obama has asked his bioethics commission to report on an almost forgotten unethical study in Guatemala between 1946
and 1948. Sex workers, prisoners and volunteers were intentionally infected
with syphilis by doctors from the US Public Health Service to test the
effectiveness of the new wonder drug penicillin. This study violated basic
human rights principles and took place shortly after Nazi doctors were
convicted of medical research without informed consent. The principal
investigator, John Cutler, was also involved in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis

want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people
from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally,” the
President told the chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of
Bioethical Issues, Amy Gutmann. The commission is to report in September next

I believe the research community has made tremendous progress in the area of
human subjects protection, what took place in Guatemala is a sobering reminder
of past abuses,” Mr Obama wrote. It is especially important for the Commission
to use its vast expertise spanning the fields of science, policy, ethics, and
religious values to carry out this mission. We owe it to the people of
Guatemala and future generations of volunteers who participate in medical
research.” ~ White House, Nov 24

Michael Cook
bioethics commissions
informed consent