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"In view of German companies' history of collaboration with Nazi abuses of medical ethics,they must now release consent certificates, insurance claims and propose compensation measures for the uninformed objects of post-War abuses."

Paris, 8 January 2013

In letters to the Chairmen of five major German pharmaceutical companies, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, stated that, "in view of the history of collaboration of several German industrial and pharmaceutical companies with Nazi abuses of medical ethics and practises during World War Two, we were horrified at the Tagesspiegel report on 'tests carried out in Communist East Germany (the GDR) between 1983 and 1984', apparently, in many cases without the subjects' knowledge".

The letter continued, "allegedly, these companies paid the then Communist authorities some "860,000 deutchmarks (approximately 600,000 US dollars). In exchange, "special medications not on the market" were reportedly prescribed by doctors at East German clinics". Samuels quoted from a 1983 article entitled "Comparison of German and American Law concerning clinical trials" by E. Deutsch, PMID: 667781, stated:

"In German and American law, clinical trials require a positive benefit - risk evaluation, free and informed consent, medical and scientific qualification of the doctor and a written research protocol... with minor or incompetent subjects, informed consent to therapeutic clinical experimentation has to be given by their parents or guardians.  In non-therapeutic trials, blind studies, double-blind studies and trials involving placebos, special attention has to be paid to the risk-benefit analysis and to informed consent which in these cases, even in Germany, must be written...
The most interesting difference in German law is the investigator's duty to effect an insurance against the risk of the research subject's death or invalidity."

The letter argued that "this regime is reinforced by European Union and World Health Organisation provisions, so that it behooved a West German company to comply even when operating within the late German Democratic Republic". 

Samuels urged Bayer AG, Schering (now part of Bayer), Hoechst (now part of the French Sanofi) Boehringer Ingelheim and Goedecke Pharma (now part of Pfizer), that "despite the mergers since 1989, we are certain that your company would wish to submit into public domain the certificates of consent, insurance claims and settlements in your corporate archives".

The letter argued that each of the companies "had prospered since these medical trials and our Centre would appreciate learning what reparations or damages it would propose to those who were uninformed subjects and to their families".

The Centre expressed its readiness "to provide its own researchers to study your archives and ensure that this outrageous chapter is closed in justice and transparency".

"In view of German companies' history of collaboration with Nazi abuses of medical ethics, they must now release consent certificates,insurance claims and propose compensation measures for the uninformed objects of such post-War abuses," concluded Samuels.