Lifestyle & Belief

Berlin hospital to investigate human pharmaceutical trials


The entrance of the Virchow campus of the Charite, one Europe's largest university hospitals, is pictured on December 20, 2012 in Berlin. The hospital is currently investigating whether "guinea pig" tests of pharmaceutical drugs were done on patients in the 1980s.


David Gannon

BERLIN, Germany - A Berlin hospital said this week that it would investigate allegations that it participated in testing pharmaceuticals on patients.

German magazine Spiegel said that up to 50,000 people in East Germany may have been used to test Western-made drugs in the 1980s.

The clinical trials were allegedly carried out in 50 hospitals, including Berlin's Charite, which said it would stop shredding old patient files to investigate the claims.

It is believed over 600 clinical trials took place.

The magazine said that the drugs were often given without the knowledge of the patients.

Reporters from Spiegel found the information while looking through East German health ministry files, Stasi secret police files and the Eastern Germany authority on pharmaceuticals.

US, Swiss and West German drug companies were said to have offered about half a million dollars for each study to the East German government desperate for foreign currency.

AFP reported that two people died in East Berlin during testing of Trental, a drug that improves blood circulation 

Two other patients died in Magdeburg while taking a blood pressure drug made by Sandoz.

There are even reports of the drugs being tested on premature babies and mental patients.

Companies included Bayer, Schering, Hoechst, bought by Sanofi, and Sandoz, bought later by Novartis.

The companies are denying they were involved in wrongdoing.