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March 5, 1997

The Nuremberg Code, Informed Consent, and Involuntary Treatment

Author Affiliations

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Bethesda, Md

JAMA. 1997;277(9):713. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540330035027

To the Editor.  —In their Editorial, Dr Grodin and Mr Annas1 state that the use of investigational drugs on US soldiers in the Gulf War without their consent, like the US military and cold war radiation experiments, directly violates the Nuremberg Code. They also emphasize that the important distinction between "treatment and research" not be blurred. Yet, by implicitly equating the use of investigational drugs with the radiation experiments and by stating that this use of investigational drugs violates the Nuremburg Code, they commit the very error they wish to prevent.The DOD, the FDA, and others involved in deciding whether investigational vaccines, drugs, or both should be used in Gulf War military personnel were clear from the time this question first was raised that these substances would be used as treatments only.2,3 The paramount consideration throughout this discussion was how to prevent the possible loss of the lives of innumerable