Experimental Treatment Without Consent

November 15, 1996

Last month the FDA quietly abandoned a 50 year old regulation, requiring doctors to get a person’s informed consent before conducting experiments. The FDA claims the new rules benefit those needing emergency treatment. Opponents raise the specter of Nazi doctors and US radiation experiments.

Goodman plays a pre-taped interview with FDA Deputy Commissioner Mary Pendergast via phone. Pendergast explains that emergency experimental treatment must meet strict guidelines and where informed consent is not conceivable. Goodman contends that these guidelines would target homeless or others without families for experimentation, and pharmaceutical companies have something to gain by expanding their research field. Pendergast says safeguards are in place to prevent unwarranted interference by drug companies on experimental treatment.

- Mary Pendergast, deputy commission of the FDA