The Tuskegee case, the experiment that laid the foundations of bioethics

The Tuskegee case, the experiment that laid the foundations of bioethics

For centuries much has been written about biotic, but it was necessary that several atrocities to end up becoming something regulated by law.

A very famous example is that of crimes against humanity tried during the Nuremberg trials, but another equally inhuman and much less known is that of Tuskegee experiment.

In this case, a group of African American sharecroppers like guinea pigs to study how it evolves syphilis without being treated. Logically, the consequences of the study for these forced volunteers they were very seriousTherefore, after learning about the madness that was being committed, some very important steps were taken towards the regulation of human clinical trials.

What did the Tuskegee experiment consist of?

The Tuskegee experiment was a clinical trial carried out between 1,932 and 1,972 in the city of Tuskegee, Alabama.

In the 1930s, the known forms of treat syphilis they were very painful and involved a lot ofside effects, so many scientists began to investigate the search for new alternatives.

The first step was to see if it was really worth the current treatment, so it was necessary to check how the disease progressed if it was not used.

Logically, no one was willing to let his illness go on without treating it, so it was necessary to resort to a group of 600 African American sharecroppers. Most of them were illiterate, so it was not difficult to deceive them, telling them that they were going to be part of a free experimental treatment that could end the syphilis symptoms. In addition, they were promised to pay for food, travel to the hospital and burial, if needed.

Of the 6oo study participants, 399 had the disease; while the others, who were healthy at the time, served as control group.

A few years after the start of the trial, in 1,947, the discovery of penicillin shifted the syphilis treatments used so far, so the ongoing experiment could have been stopped with its administration. However, the responsible scientists decided to go ahead, so that initially they hid the information the patients and, later, they were advised not to take it, because it could impair the proper functioning of the drugs they were taking.

What were the consequences of the Tuskegee experiment?

The experiment ended in 1972, after the case was leaked to the press, sparking a stir that led to its termination. At that time, of the 399 patients who started the study 28 had died because of syphilis and another 100 they had done it for medical complications related to procedures performed by researchers.

In addition, being a sexually transmitted disease, the wives of 40 of the subjects had been infected and many of them had given birth to a total of 19 sick children.

This led to the need to regulate clinical trials in humans, so the National Council for Human Research and theBelmont Report, which emphasizes the need to comply with the principles of autonomy, charity and justice, which had been attempted through the experiment.

These were joined by the formation of others specialized competent bodies and it led to the fact that since then no one can be part of a clinical trial without giving informed consent in which everything about the process to be followed and the possible associated risks is made known to you, and you can leave it whenever you want.

Thanks to this, no one can ever hide behind the name of science to commit those atrocities that sometimes lead us to be ashamed of belonging to the human species.

Back to top button

Ad blocker detected

You must remove the AD BLOCKER to continue using our website THANK YOU