Today’s New York Times has a piece on the use of prison inmates for medical research . The now famous Tuskegee studies of the 1930’s (40 years of not treating black inmates who had syphilis) and then the 1970’s abuses at Holmesburg prison, where inmates were paid $100s of dollars a month to test various skin products, have curtailed the use of prison inmates today for pharmeceutical research. So now we are told a panel of influential medical advisors are calling for loosening the restrictions from using prisoners in human clinical trials.

Much of this article is worrisome to me but this part is particularly scary.

“The discussion (to loosen the restrictions) comes as the biomedical industry is facing a shortage of testing subjects. In the last two years, several pain medications, including Vioxx and Bextra, have been pulled off the market because early testing did not include large enough numbers of patients to catch dangerous problems.”

Author Profile

Jennifer Lahl, CBC Founder
Jennifer Lahl, CBC Founder
Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.