II. A Brief History of Research Ethics Violations and Regulation

There were many other cases of ethically troubling research in the U.S. Two well known examples include:

  • In the Willowbrook State School Hepatitis Study (1963-1966), mentally disabled children were deliberately infected with hepatitis so that researchers could test gamma globulin as a treatment. Some parents were coerced into consenting to let their children be infected because they couldn't get their children into the school unless they agreed to let their children be part of the study. The researchers justified the deliberate infection by arguing that children in that school would probably come down with hepatitis anyway, because the disease was chronic in that institution.
  • In the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Study (1963), chronically ill patients were deliberately injected with live cancer cells without documenting informed consent. Researchers said that patients had given oral consent, but investigation showed that many patients were in no mental state to give truly informed consent.
  • In a much more recent example (1999), the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center was ordered to halt all human experiments when it was alleged that mental patients were deliberately taken off their medicines so that researchers could study their symptoms. [1]

[1] Phillip J Hilts, "VA Hospital Is Told to Halt All Research." New York Times, 25 March 1999. 

Visit this website http://phrp.nihtraining.com/history/07_history.php for an interactive timeline outlining important ethical events (developed by the U.S. National Institute of Health).