Intended for healthcare professionals


President’s commission considers how to protect human rights after Guatemala experiment

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 23 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3232
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

A special commission set up by President Barack Obama is considering how best to protect the human rights of people who take part in clinical trials in the wake of the discovery last year that a US agency had conducted unethical research in Guatemala in the 1940s.

The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues was established in 2009. Since Susan Reverby, a historian from Wellesley College, near Boston, discovered last year that the US Public Health Service had conducted unethical research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948, the commission has concentrated on protecting the human rights of people in such studies. The commission held its fifth public session in New York on 18 and 19 May and plans to present its report this summer.

The commission’s chairwoman, …

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