An open letter to Amy Guttmann, PhD, Chair, and Commission Members Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues Concerning the Presidential Commission’s Review of the Ethics of Human Medical Experiments, and Repetition of Tuskegee & Guatemala and Ongoing Unethical Practices.
Dear Dr. Gutmann and Commission Members:
President Obama’s charge to the Commission is to 1) review the clinical research conducted by the Tuskegee and Guatemala studies and to 2) determine whether ethical violations currently or potentially exist in the conduct of clinical research sponsored by the U.S. government in resource-poor countries. If unbiased determinations are to be made, the reviewers and invited presenters of the commission must be free of potential conflicts of interest. Our review of certain NIH-sponsored research studies, and our review of the brief, publically-available biographies of commission members and reviewers, raise questions as to whether some individuals may have potential conflicts of interest in reaching unbiased conclusions. (ref. Presidential Memorandum )
We urge you in your capacity as Chair of the President’s Commission to consider the issue of conflicts of interest and to take whatever appropriate remedial action is required to eliminate any such conflicts before the Commission proceeds further in its investigation, and secondly, to take heed of current NIH-funded research projects which may have committed or are currently committing ethical violations that are uncomfortably reminiscent of the Tuskegee and Guatemala projects.