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Were Humans Used as Lab Rats in Germany? Hospital Plans to Investigate

Update Date: May 14, 2013 10:17 AM EDT

A news magazine, Der Spiegel in Germany is claiming that during the 1980s, communist officials had allowed drug trials on human lab rats in the former state of Eastern Germany. The story is reporting that Western firms had tested new drugs on around 50,000 people, including premature infants, without informing them. Based from these allegations, a Berlin hospital has announced that it would start investigating old patient records to attempt to understand what might have happened during those times.

"As a first step, Charite has stopped the usual shredding of decades-old files after expiry of the storage period. This is in order to reconstruct the course of action in particular cases as fully as possible," Charite hospital announced in a statement.

The hospital plans on reexamining the levels of consent between patients and medical professionals as well as any possible die-effects that were not handled properly. The hospital stated that it would also look into the legal standards during the time.

According to Der Spiegel, the magazine received information from the former East German health ministry records, the former state's pharmaceutical authority, the old Stasi secret police files and private collections. These sources stated that numerous companies from West Germany, the United States and Switzerland paid nearly $520,000 per clinical study. 

Apparently, over 50 East German medical facilities were involved in over 600 clinical trials that reeked in a lot of funds for a state that needed money. Some of the rumored drug companies that are believed to be involved are Bayer, Schering, Sandoz, which is now Novartis, and Hoechst. Novartis and Bayer have stated that their clinical trials conformed with the ethical and legal standards at the time. Charite hospital said that it would start its investigation today.

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