Monday, November 03, 2003

Human research then and now.

Interesting article in the Th Daily Pennsylvanian - UPenn's campus paper, about the University's decision to give a lifetime achievement award to dermatologist and professor emeritus Albert Kligman. In addition to his pioneering work on Retin-A, Dr. Kligman entered into numerous contracts with pharmaceutical companies to test their drugs, which he often did on the inmates of Holmesburg Prison and the elderly residents of the Riverview Home. An article in the same paper last Friday quotes Art Caplan, the head of the bioethics program at Penn, as saying:
Our attitude is that in some ways his experiments from current standards... don't pass muster. . . But according to the standards of the day, doing experiments on prisoners was common. . . . There's no doubt that scientifically and medically he did pioneering and important work . . . At the same time, I think it's appropriate in acknowledging him to comment that some of the things that happened in the time were immoral. . . . Science has advanced and, in fact, ethics have advanced. . . . You have this problem that comes up all the time of holding people [to today's standards when evaluating their past actions] . . . There's been a shift in attitudes from the '50s to today in terms of research on prisoners and the rights of people to be informed . . . I think it's fine and appropriate to say to people [that] what we did then we've learned is wrong, and we are committed to doing better . . . I think that's owed the people. I think that's appropriate for the University to say.
posted by tommayo, 5:33 PM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter