$1 BILLION LAWSUIT PROCEEDS FOR BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB ROLE IN SYPHILIS MURDERS
So this came out of left field. But that’s because I’m an American and we tend to not know our darker histories. For some reason… But this surprised me, if briefly. The big pharma giant Bristol Myers-Squibb has been nailed with a $1 Billion (with a capital B) lawsuit for murdering people with syphilis. No, you read that right. The corporate giant, with some others, participated in an American government study back in the 1940’s. But for this study, they infected, on purpose and in secret, people in Guatemala with syphilis. And last week, a federal judge in Maryland tossed the defense’s argument to end the suit.
DEFENSE TRIED TO CLAIM EXEMPTION LIKE FOREIGN COMPANIES, JUDGE SAYS NOPE
So what was their argument? That domestic companies are exempt from suits filed in the US alleging human rights violations outside the US. But, guess what? Bristol Myers-Squibb is a domestic company. But this horrifying history came to light only in 2010. Susan Reverby, a Wellesley College professor, made the awful discovery. US researchers conducted these disgusting experiments during the 1940s and 50’s. But they did it to thousands of people; prisoners soldiers, sex workers and psychiatric patients. Some were only 10 years old. 83 deaths are linked to the study. There are likely more than that.
SYPHILIS IS A DEADLY STD, THESE STUDIES ARE A TRAVESTY
But late stage syphilis often kills those infected. So the central goal of these experiments was to see how antibiotics worked on STDs like syphilis, but before symptoms appeared. So authorities gave prisoners access to infected prostitutes. Others they infected directly without consent or awareness. Many received no treatment at all. And to make the history even darker, we have to talk about John Cutler. He was a US doctor and part of this study. He later went on and was part of the Tuskegee experiment. You know, the one where authorities kept infected black men in Alabama from having treatment.
So keep an eye on this one. It’s old history. But it’s also American made.