Uni apologises for 2,600 ‘humans mosquito’ medical experiments on prisoners

A university has apologised for conducting dozens of 'unethical' medical experiments on at least 2,600 prisoners.

In the 1960s and 1970s, lags in the United States were tested on with pesticides and herbicides which were injected into their veins.

Jailed men at the California Medical Facility also had small cages with mosquitos placed close to their arms or directly on their skin to determine “host attractiveness of humans to mosquitos,” a report found.

Two dermatologists at the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Howard Maibach and Dr. William Epstein, conducted the tests on prisoners, some of whom did not have any of the diseases or conditions the research aimed to treat.

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Participants in the study volunteered for the experiments and were paid $30 (£25) a month for their participation, but a report by the university’s Program for Historical Reconciliation found doctors engaged in “questionable informed consent practices”.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein said in a statement: “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."

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The research ended in 1977 when California prohibited human subject research in state prisons, a year after the federal government halted the practice.

But Epstein in 1977 testified in state hearings in support of biomedical experimentation at prisons, the report found, and investigators could not find any evidence that he changed his opinion before he died.

Maibach continues to work at the university while Epstein died in 2006. It is not clear if Maibach would face any discipline in light of the report.

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Maibach’s son, Edward Maibach, told the Associated Press that his father had suffered a stroke and was unable to respond to press inquiries.

Edward added: “Dr. Maibach’s activities at Vacaville were known to, and endorsed by, UCSF administrators, including the UCSF ethicist."

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