Leslie Carol Botha: Exposing innocent and traumatized children to high doses of drugs is unconscionable. Liam Scheff has written a brilliant expose on what went on behind the doors of a Catholic orphanage in Washington Heights.
The House that HIV Testing Built
Office of Medical and Scientific Justice
by Liam Scheff
Official Stories (2012)
8 Jun – There is an orphanage in Washington Heights, one of the poorest neighborhoods on Manhattan, located just above Harlem. A Catholic orphanage. It took in the children of crack addicts who’d been abandoned at the hospital. The nuns nursed some of them back to health, but some of them died. Because that’s what being born addicted to crack does to you. It kills you.
If you want to know why cheap cocaine was flooding the United States, I suppose you can call Barry Seal, who’s dead, or Oliver North, who isn’t and ask them about the CIA bringing drugs into the cities. Or, you can ask Gary Webb, who is also dead, for doing the reporting on it.
This Catholic orphanage was doing a good thing. Then the NIH got a hold of it. They decided that this population of cracked-out orphans, born nearly dead, was a wonderful, untapped resource for testing AIDS drugs on, to see if they could get them approved for children. And in the early 90s, stretching to the mid-2000s, that’s what they did.
The kids were getting daily doses of drugs with the FDA’s “black box” label, which means they had killed adults at normal doses. They were getting them five, six, seven, eight and nine at a time. “Some at higher than usual doses,” went the study description.
There were three dozen drug trials in the government database listing the orphanage as a study site. The studies were sponsored by your tax money given to the NIH, coupled with direct funding from drug companies: Glaxo, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Genentech, Merck and others.
The hospitals used the orphanage to get test subjects, arranged by the doctors who were put in charge. These “doctors,” Dr. Steven Nicholas and then Dr. Catherine Painter, posed as friends to these children and forcibly drugged them. The staff of child-care workers, consisting of neighborhood Dominican women, were made to carry out the drug regimen day and night.
Once on the drugs, severe illness was normal. Children had violent diarrhea and threw up as a regular feature of being drugged around the clock. It was noticeable that many children were stunted, physically and developmentally. Many developed large fatty lumps and humps on their bodies. These come from the protease inhibiting drugs and had to be removed with plastic surgeries.
After starting the drugs, children got sick, fast. Many died. A 6-year-old girl who’d never been sick was brought in for drug compliance. That is, she wasn’t taking the drugs at home and the city social workers had a problem with that, so she was put in the orphanage. On the drugs for a few months, she had a stroke, went blind and then died. This kind of violent drug death happened to a lot of the children, quickly and slowly. That’s what “black box” means, in actuality. I knew some of these children personally. I know a lot more through my sources.