Panel Reveals New Details Of 1940's Experiment

Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 --- 7:05 a.m.

ATLANTA (AP) -- New details are being disclosed about one of the darker episodes of medical research in U.S. history -- experiments on humans in the 1940s.

A presidential panel on Monday described details of U.S. medical experiments done in Guatemala, including a decision to re-infect a dying woman in a syphilis study.

The panel members say the new information indicates that the researchers were unusually unethical, even in the historical context of a different era. They say the research itself was bad even by 1940s standards.

Panel member Anita Allen says the researchers put "human decency a far second."

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues says that from 1946-48, the medical research -- paid for by the U.S. government -- involved deliberately exposing people to sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers apparently were trying to see if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infections.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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