1940s Guatemala trial “morally wrong” concludes US commission
Push for increased protection for research participants
The commission asked by Barack Obama to investigate US funded research in Guatemala in the 1940s, where people were deliberately infected with sexually transmitted infections, have concluded it was “morally wrong” even by standards of the day and recommended increased protection for research participants.
“My conclusion is, and it has to be a reluctant one, [that] the doctors did not treat these human beings as if they were worthy of respect or consideration,” said Amy Gutmann, chair of the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The subjects were not briefed and had not given consent.
Dr Gutmann said the commission was surprised to discover there is no central database of those involved in federally funded research, particularly as it becomes increasingly international. It recommends that research funders should support ethics training, registration of all risky research, and a system of compensation for subjects with research related injuries.