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By Gerald Kutcher

Within the 1960s University of Cincinnati radiologist Eugene Saenger infamously carried out human experiments on sufferers with complicated melanoma to ascertain how overall physique radiation may possibly deal with the illness. yet, below agreement with the dept of safety, Saenger extensively utilized those self same sufferers as proxies for infantrymen to respond to questions about strive against effectiveness on a nuclear battlefield. utilizing the Saenger case as a method to think again chilly struggle scientific trials, Contested drugs examines the inherent tensions on the middle of scientific reviews of the time. Emphasizing the deeply intertwined and at the same time supportive dating among melanoma remedy with radiation and armed forces medication, Gerald Kutcher explores post–World conflict II melanoma trials, the efforts of the govt. to control medical ethics, and the real position of army investigations within the improvement of an efficient remedy for early life leukemia. while so much histories of human experimentation pass judgement on learn reminiscent of Saenger’s opposed to idealized practices, Contested drugs eschews such an process and considers why Saenger’s friends and later critics had quite a bit trouble attaining an unambiguous moral evaluate. Kutcher’s enticing research bargains an method of medical ethics and study imperatives that lays naked a number of the conflicts and tensions of the postwar interval.

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Researchers believed that ethical behavior could continue to be maintained through the virtue of each physician-investigator. The epigraph to this chapter, by Louis Lasagna, one of the most thoughtful of the postwar investigators, and someone who wrote often on matters of research ethics, makes evident the strongly held belief within the medical community that research decisions should be left in the hands of virtuous physician-investigators. As more and more research money entered the arena in the 1950s, and as an increasing number of investigators participated in clinical studies, the medical research enterprise began to falter.

Yet they had gained control of most of the funds, and they saw the clinical trial as a means to prove their claims and gain their place in the medical establishment. Which areas of cancer therapy would provide the evidence needed to support the claims of chemotherapy as a treatment? The use of nitrogen mustard to treat leukemia was one possibility since it had initially demonstrated spectacular remissions, though, unfortunately, these were followed by wholesale recurrences. But, even if the chemotherapists cured all the leukemia and lymphoma cases, they would hardly budge the overall cancer death rate.

39 In his 1977 paper, Fisher claimed a victory for L-PAM and forecast that even better results lay ahead with more aggressive chemotherapy regimens. 40 Nevertheless, there was a disquieting note. 41 Fisher reported on the toxicity rather differently than he did survival. He either relied entirely on qualitative descriptions or, when statistics were used, complemented them with rhetorical descriptions. For example, he argued that complications were “limited” and “manageable” and that there was a high compliance of the patients to the drug regimen.

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