From its earliest days until right now the government of the United States has a shameful record of lethal medical deceptions - "genocide," to many critics-that have taken countless lives.
That sordid history begins in the 1800s, when thousands of Native Americans were slaughtered by what amounted to germ warfare, with U.S. officials following an earlier British example. In the mid-1700s Lord Jeffrey Amherst, for whom the college and the Massachusetts town are named, had sent disease-bearing blankets as "peace offerings" to a hostile Indian tribe near what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, triggering an epidemic. The blankets had covered the bodies of white victims of smallpox, a now extinct but then lethal disease that in its time killed millions all over the world. Motivation for the deadly gift to the Indians-then and during the following century in the American West-was simple: Wipe them out.
During World War II, as is now known, medical researchers working for Uncle Sam in Tuskegee, Alabama-the heart of Dixie-committed an atrocity in the name of a medical science worthy of the Nazis, based on a racism not too far from Hitler's. They deliberately withheld information from the impoverished black men who volunteered to participate in a government "experiment' in exchange for free medical care. What the doctors knew only too well? All of those volunteers had tested positive for syphilis. The object of this "research" was to determine the end results of untreated syphilis. The only effective treatment was a brand new drug called penicillin, and virtually all of it was consigned to U.S. troops. During the 40 years the program continued, 128 of the 399 black volunteers died of untreated syphilis or its complications. The Public Health Service continued not to inform or treat these patients for more than a quarter century after World War II was won and penicillin had become plentiful, and apparently would have continued the barbaric project through today, but in 1972 it was finally exposed in the press, and a humiliated U.S. government brought it to a halt. It took another 25 years for Washington to get around to apologizing to the victims, dead or alive, and their families. President Clinton finally asked for forgiveness from the aging survivors in May of this year, five months into his second term.
One grievous corollary of the Tuskegee experiment has been the destruction of trust in the federal government among many African-Americans, including a large number who had previously looked to Washington for justice. Tuskegee, in fact, became the rationale for many conspiracy theories widely held by many today, including the idea that the new plagues of AIDS and crack cocaine were created as mechanisms for committing genocide against the black people of America. Those who quickly dismiss such conspiracy believers as paranoid should imagine how they might feel if the Tuskegee atrocity had been committed against people of their own ethnic heritage.
But you do not have to be black or Native American to suffer at the hands of the government. You can be of any color and a combat veteran of the Gulf War or Vietnam. Thousands came, home from battle with their health twice shattered, first by being chemically poisoned or irradiated on the battlefield, later by the government's denial of knowledge or responsibility
In Vietnam, long-term damage came not only from enemy bullets but also from the air-dropped jungle-killing defoliant Agent Orange. Considerable amounts of Agent Orange were ingested by thousands of American ground troops. In the Gulf War there was exposure to Iraqi chemical weapons blown up by U.S. forces, and the unforeseen, unwarned-of health consequences for U.S. soldiers who were near the depleted uranium shells American tanks had fired at enemy positions, The federal government's unwritten policy of lying so as to distance itself from any unbudgeted war-related medical problems added to the suffering of our injured veterans. (Earlier this year Penthouse won an important American Society of Journalists and Authors award for Lisa Collier Cool's July 1996 report on the government cover-up of Gulf War syndrome.)
The latest medical deception by the U.S. government which has cost the untimely suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of cancer patients worldwide over the past 20 years-concerns the anti-cancer drug hydrazine sulfate. Developed by the Syracuse (New York) Cancer Research Institute, this medication-an inexpensive, easy-to-take drug, demonstrated to be safe and effective in controlled clinical trials in all types and stages of cancer-has been the target of official government lies and suppression. In 1976 the NCI wrote to veteran Congressman James M. Hanley (D-NY), who had made an official inquiry about the drug: "Hydrazine sulfate has been tested in the Soviet Union at the Petrov Institute.... No evidence of meaningful anticancer activity was reported." One week later the congressman received a reprint of the actual Petrov-study report, and it stated just the opposite: "We observed a definite therapeutic effect of hydrazine sulfate in patients with Hodgkin's disease and malignant tumors of various localization's in far advanced stages, when other measures of specific therapy have failed." Since then hydrazine sulfate has gone on to become an approved, first-line cancer drug in Russia, after 17 years of successful clinical testing there.
In 1985 Dr. Vincent T De Vita, Jr., director of the NCI, in his influential textbook Cancer, Principles & Practice of Oncology, added hydrazine sulfate to this book's chapter on "Unproven Methods of Cancer Treatment." This action was made in the face of already published placebo-controlled, double-blind studies at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center indicating efficacy and safety of the drug in patients with advanced lung, breast, colon, and other cancers. The De Vita textbook grudgingly characterized the Russian studies as demonstrating only 'hints of subjective "activity"
The most current, and estimably harmful, U.S. government action was the large-scale Phase III NCI - sponsored studies themselves of hydrazine sulfate, carried out between 1989 and 1993. In these nationwide clinical trials the NCI failed to inform patients in its "informed-consent statements" that the combination of hydrazine sulfate with tranquilizers, barbiturates, and alcohol - in one of the NCI studies 94 percent of all patients were given tranquilizers alone-could not only deactivate the therapeutic action of the drug but could result in patient morbidity and mortality. The reason these severely ill cancer patients permitted the government to experiment on them with hydrazine sulfate was their hope that this drug might help them in the way it had helped the dozens-of patients in smaller clinical trials conducted by Harbor-UCLA during ten years of testing. (The NCI's failure to include in its informed consent statements the possible detrimental effect of the combination of hydrazine sulfate with tranquilizers, barbiturates, and alcohol serves as the basis of a class-action lawsuit being considered against the NCI as described on page 55).
By its actions on hydrazine sulfate the US government has participated in the deaths of untold numbers of cancer patients in the US and around the world. And it continues.
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