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Medical Experimentation: Another Tuskegee Study or Beneficial Research - Essay Example

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The recent proposal to involve prisoners in the American correctional centers in medical trials is reminiscent of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis medical experiment that remains one of the most embarrassing events in American medical history. Using human beings for medical experiments does not only elicit safety issues, but moral and ethical concerns as well…
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Medical Experimentation: Another Tuskegee Study or Beneficial Research
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"Medical Experimentation: Another Tuskegee Study or Beneficial Research"

Download file to see previous pages Using prisoners for medical trials to develop cure for HIV and hepatitis virus is not humane considering the fact they live in an environment that restricts freedom including liberty of movement and expression in addition to poor medical care access. For a person to be engaged in a medical trial, the individual must make voluntary consent that is well informed about the implications of the experiment on his health. In addition medical practitioners and other stakeholders should make adequate compensation schemes to take care of the patient should the experiment go wrong and result to life threatening medical conditions on the person (Benedek, 1978). Lack of adequate information and poor social economic status of people used in Tuskegee syphilis studies and Holmesburg prison experiments exposed them to life limiting disorders and death. In typical correctional centers, prisoners do not have any source of income because of limitation of movement. In addition, they live in a repressive environment where they could be easily coerced by prison officers to make uninformed decisions. In case of Tuskegee syphilis study, poor peasants with low literacy levels were subjected to syphilis infection, without their informed consent (CDC, 2009). According to Benedek (1978, p47), the peasants were falsely made to believe that they were being treated of “bad blood” only to be infected and later denied treatment of syphilis in spite of the availability of curative medicine. In a period of forty years, 28 of the subjects had died of syphilis, 100 succumbed to syphilis related complications and over forty women infected with the sexually transmitted disease. In addition, many children were infected with the infection during birth causing life-limiting disabilities. Due to poverty and ignorance, the little amount of money that medical experts gave to Tuskegee residents enticed them to participate in the lethal experiment (CDC, 2009). At Holmesburg prison, the prisoners were enticed with several hundred dollars to try uncertified skin medications and potentially harmful dermatological procedures (Albarelli, 2002). The procedure inflicted the prisoners with severe physical and psychological disorders, consequences that they had not been well informed about (Allen 1999). Both Tuskegee and Holmesburg medical trials involved poor and minority black Americans. This demonstrates that using meager financial inducements pharmaceutical companies can exploit ignorance and repressive prison conditions to win the consent of the prisoners for medical trials. Prisoners enjoy lower protection from the government than other citizens and even animals used for medical experiments (BES, 2007). Therefore, using them for medical trials is tantamount to exploitation, rendering the entire experimental process unethical. Following events of Tuskegee and Holmesburg experiments, the government passed legislations to safeguard the wellbeing of people used in medical trial. However, in spite of the reforms, the present conditions in prison deny the prisoners with an opportunity of making voluntary consent to medical experiments (Albarelli, 2002). As long as the research is directed by wealthy and influential pharmaceutical companies to poor, vulnerable populations, the trials will continue ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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