In 1947, an international tribunal meeting in Nuremburg convicted fifteen German physicians of “war crimes and crimes against humanity”. The Physicians were charged with taking part in “medical experiments without the subjects consent”. But the language of the charge fails to indicate the cruel and barbaric nature of the experiments. Here are just some of them:
• At the Regensburg concentration camp, experiments were conducted to test the therapeutic powers of the drug Sulphanilamide. Cuts were deliberately made on the bodies of people; then the wounds were infected with bacteria. The infectious was worsened by forcing wood shaving and ground glass into the cuts. Then Sulphonamide and other drugs were tested for their effectiveness in combatting the infection.
• At the Dachau concentration camp, healthy inmates were injected with extracts from mucous glands of mosquitos to produce Malaria. Various drugs were then used to determine their relative effectiveness.
• At Buchenwald, numerous healthy people were deliberately infected with the spotted-fever virus merely for the purpose of keeping the virus alive. Over 90 percent of those infected died as a result.
• Also at Buchenwald, Various kinds of poisons were secretly administered to a number of inmates to test their efficiency. Either the inmates died or they were killed at once so that the autopsies could be performed. Some experimental subjects were shot with poisoned bullets.
• At Dachau, to help the German Air Force investigations were made into the limits of human endurance and existence at height altitudes. People were in sealed chambers, then subjected to very high and very low atmospheric pressures. As the indictment put it, “Many victims died as a result of these experiments and others suffered grave injury, torture and ill-treatment”.
Physicians had an ever paternalistic view point of their subjects. That they are incompetent to decide in their best interests, and that the physicians must assume the responsibility of acting for them.
Their assumption is that they lack in medical background, that they cannot possibly be given information that be given out to the people in a way that they can understand, for the people to be able to make a decision on what they believe to be in their best interest’s, also for how they would like to be treated.
For someone to be able to give consent there are certain features that need to be acknowledged and these are. In order for consent to be valid, consent must be voluntary. The person must be acting of ones “own free will” and agreed to become a test subject. This means that a person must be capable of acting voluntarily, and the person must be fully competent of doing so.
The issues arise when consent from vulnerable people such as, children, the mentally challenged, prisoner’s and those that are also suffering Psychiatric illnesses are considered with respect to consent.
In such cases consent must be given from a third party such as a guardian, parent or care- giver, for consent to be legitimate. As consent is not just merely say just yes, it is also the understanding of what procedures are going to be done and what the elements that are involved.
Medical research is to aim at reliving the suffering people and to restore back to good health. In medicine attempts to cure the diseases, correct disorders and also to being about normal healthy body function. The focus is to be on a particular patient/subject and that is to be their main concern.
When medical research falls in to the case of placebos during a drug experiment the purpose of the placebo is to tests the elements of a drug and what effectiveness will be through the placebo effect. Each person will be marked on who will receive a placebo an inactive drug and who will receive the active drug, those that have been given a placebo will usually don’t know that they have had a placebo, they think they have an active drug, the experiment will take place monitoring each of their changes if there is any, for results of improvement within each patient/subject and then will be measured up against the ones who have had the active drug and test the results to see which of the drug is a best fit. Though the ones that have a placebo will possibly think that the drug is working and eventually the illness will evaporate away. Though a Physician that would prescribe a placebo would not tell a patient that they are having a placebo and this would be deceiving the patient of a medical active drug if the Physician thinks that there is no illness, this would be a patient who is a hypercontracted, though it is in the Physicians best interest to not prescribe a placebo and be honest with the patient, even if he would maybe facing losing this patient to another Physician.
With all the facts that are present even when it comes down to having consent it is not okay to go ahead with any experiment, or procedure without giving Informed consent as it still stands, everyone within human rights has a right to know what the background is to anything that is to be done to someone, a person has a right to know. Also if we do not giving someone information that may direct them into decision that might not be best for them, we cannot deceive our people by being less than honest, they might not make the best decision though we have to let make whatever decision they desired, as it is their right to act autonomously with the right to make those decision that they have decided on. We cannot over look something or leave a truth from someone because we will be deceive there autonomy to make a decision based on all the factual evidence. If someone did not want to know they would not seek something for an answer, also if someone is to also become a test subject we cannot deceive them by not informing them of all the factual evidence even if we don’t know what they are even yet, because people need to know the whole facts from start to finish and also including the risks that maybe involved even if they are only minor. If we do not do this then they will never know what the best thing to do is. Even if people have even made mistakes and have ended in jail, on the streets and poor, even those that have had less education than a lot of people, do we deprive them because they also do not have medical background, is that really an excuse that a Physician can use even though he has been treating lesser than he is for years and been able to bring understanding of health care. Really I think that they cannot. So yes they have been deceived and the outcome was not justified because the law strictly over looked hurt, the violation to autonomy and bodily physical damage, injury, torture and deaths that has occurred within the experiments. The excuses for why, how and when does not stand for nothing when we are damaging what is in our society and cruelty that has been placed upon these people at the worst time in a lifetime.