Tuesday, May 29, 2007

NIH & FDA OK Experiments on Crash Victims

The National Institutes of Health bows down to politically driven restrictions on medical research (such as stem cell research) and the Food and Drug Administration might as well not exist for all the protection it gives Americans regarding anything remotely having to do with food or drugs. However, yesterday, the New York Times reported, “The federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds of medical experiments without first getting patients' permission.” This ethically suspect project has been under “exhaustive scientific and ethical review by the National Institutes of Health, which authorized the funding in 2004, and the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the first phase about a year ago and the second phase six months ago”, the NYT said. The first “experiments” were conducted on 6,000 patients who were in shock or had head injuries from a car accident, a fall or some other “trauma”. The NYT reported that, “About 40,000 such patients show up at hospitals each year, and the standard practice is to give them saline infusions to stabilize their blood pressure. For the study, emergency medical workers are randomly infusing some patients with "hypertonic" solutions containing much higher levels of sodium, with or without a drug called dextran. Animal research and small human studies have indicated that hypertonic solutions could save more lives and minimize brain damage.” Myron L. Weisfeldt of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is overseeing the project. He said, "Even if there are family members present, they know their loved one is dying. The ambulance is there. The sirens are going off. You can't possibly imagine gaining a meaningful informed consent from someone under those circumstances." Weisfeldt went on to say "Some people object to the whole concept of doing any study whatsoever without permission....we try to explain all the layers of approval we've gone through and that this is the only way we can do the kind of research that could save many more lives in the future...we will never know the best way to treat people unless we do this research. And the only way we can do this research, since the person is unconscious, is without consent.” WTF? Layers of approval? Not by the families of the people being experimented on, that’s for certain. How about comatose people who have no families? Are they also being experimented on? The NYT says, “The next experiment, which will involve about 15,000 patients, is designed to determine how best to revive patients whose hearts suddenly stop beating. About 180,000 Americans suffer these sudden cardiac arrests each year. “Emergency medical workers often shock these patients immediately to try to get their hearts started again. But some do a few minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation first. Researchers want to determine which tactic works better by randomly trying one or the other -- both with and without a special valve attached to devices used to push air into the lungs during CPR. That study is expected to start next month.” So the Bush administration says embryonic stem cell research is wrong, “partial-birth” abortions are wrong, the Roman Catholic Church says all contraception and vaccinating young girls against cervical cancer is wrong, the right-to-lifers say the “morning-after” pill is wrong. But experimenting on dying people without the consent of their families or loved ones is right. And not only does the NIH, FDA, trauma experts and “some” bioethicists think this kind of experimenting is right, they have already implemented their plan, unbeknown to anyone except themselves. And the arrogant Myron Weisfeldt told the NYT “all critics against the plan would be unhappy under any circumstances”. No, Mr. Weisfeldt, you overbearing, egotistical pig, we would not be unhappy under any circumstances. It’s the fact that you and your “experimenters” have done these experiments in secret and have gotten permission from NO ONE except yourselves--that's why this whole project is appalling. It’s the fact that we are reminded of experiments undertaken in Nazi Germany and in America’s past on hapless black men that raises concern. This is not a complicated ethical issue. Just because this team of benighted medical experts believe their experiments are for the good of mankind, does not mean they have the right to impose them on trauma victims. If informed consent to perform an experiment on a human person cannot be obtained, then it should not be done. It’s simple as that.

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