October 23, 2006
By Zvi Zrahiya and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondents
Eight more doctors from the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot and the Hartzfeld Geriatric Hospital in Gedera are suspected of involvement in experiments on human beings, Chief Superintendent Meir Cohen, told the Knesset Labor and Welfare Committee on Monday.
Cohen is the head of internal investigations in the Public Security office.
Some of the suspected doctors were interrogated by local police, but none were arrested.
The new allegations bring the total number of doctors being investigated for conducting illegal human experiments to 12.
Police suspect that the doctors illegally carried out these experiments in order to advance professionally, and for academic papers they wished to be published.
The doctors are being invested for a number of charges, including breach of trust, forgery, taking advantage of helpless individuals, and receiving bribes.
The doctors are believed to have performed illegal experiments on hundreds of elderly individuals, many without their required consent. 12 of those who were experimented on died, and their deaths were not correctly reported to the Health Ministry as required by law.
Professor Avi Yisraeli, director-general of the Health Ministry, said his office is formulating a law regarding experimenting on human beings.
The bill will be submitted for approval by the government within two months.
The law will also determine the punishment for doctors who break the ethical code of illegally experimenting on humans.
“How is it possible that MKs have passed a law giving guidelines for animal experimentation, and never have proposed a law for human experimentation?” Professor Avinoam Reches, director-general of the Israel Medical Association Ethics Committee, asked during Monday’s committee hearing. “Are chickens more important than humans?”
Yisraeli blames the unstable and therefore changing government in Knesset for never getting around to reviewing the bill on human experimentation.
Yisraeli also said that the doctors’ illegal behavior was impossible to foresee, since they forged consent documents and ignored Health Ministry regulations.
He maintains that in March 2005, the ministry ordered hospitals to set up supervision teams to oversee medical experiments, and in September 2005 the ministry launched a public drive for people willing to volunteer for medical experiments.