UCSF doctors subjected prisoners to pesticides, herbicides, mosquitoes
A report published by the University of California San Francisco shows that dermatologists performed unethical experiments on prisoners.
An internal investigation conducted by the University of California San Francisco found that experiments performed on incarcerated people at a Bay Area prison by 2 faculty members between the 1960s and 1970s were abusive and unethical.
The faculty members - who were dermatologists at the university - experimented on a minimum of 2,600 people incarcerated at the California Medical Facility, which is a prison hospital in Vacaville. According to the report, there doesn't seem to be consent from the UCSF committee to conduct such experiments on humans.
Dr. Howard Maibach and Dr. William Epstein performed experiments on their human subjects - however the report in question found that there were no records of informed consent by the research subjects.
But that was not the worst of it all: The researchers used topical and intravenous methods of dosing pesticides and herbicides on the prisoners, placing small cages filled with mosquitos in exteme proximity to the human subjects' arms to observe the "host attractiveness of humans to mosquitoes."
The mosquito cages were also placed directly on the skin, which gave researchers insight into how the mosquitoes bit the subject.
The people in question were paid $30 a month to participate in the medical experiments - the medical experimentation jobs were among the best jobs available at the prison and were in high demand according to the UCSF Synapse, which is the university's student newspaper, written in 1977.
Maibach, who still practices at the UCSF Dermatology Clinic at Mount Zion, commented on the report: “What I believe to be ethical as a matter of course forty or fifty years ago is not considered ethical today. I regret having participated in research that did not comply with contemporary standards.”
He argued that the research helped advance science, and “I do not recall in any way in which the studies caused medical harm to the participants.”
UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Dan Lowenstein released a statement saying: “UCSF apologizes for its explicit role in the harm caused to the subjects, their families, and our community by facilitating this research, and acknowledges the institution’s implicit role in perpetuating unethical treatment of vulnerable and underserved populations — regardless of the legal or perceptual standards of the time.”