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We Used Prisoners as Guinea Pigs Back Then

Pictures have emerged providing the shocking proof that U.S. government doctors once experimented on disabled American citizens and prison inmates.

Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.

Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission.

ExperimentsPrison ‘volunteers’: In this 1966 picture, medical administrator Solomon McBride questions a clearly marked subject at Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia. Questions have been rasied about whether inmates were coerced

The meeting was triggered by the government’s apology last year for federal doctors infecting prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis 65 years ago.

U.S. officials also acknowledged there had been dozens of similar experiments in America – studies that often involved making healthy people sick.

A review by the Associated Press of medical journal reports and decades-old press clippings found more than 40 such studies.

At best, these were a search for lifesaving treatments – at worst, some amounted to curiosity-satisfying experiments that hurt people but provided no useful results.

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