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July 5, 1971

Prevention of Viral Hepatitis: Mission Impossible?

JAMA. 1971;217(1):70-71. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190010052013

Letters to the editor of Lancet harshly criticized Krugman and his colleagues for their studies of hepatitis at the Willowbrook State School, an institution for mentally retarded children.1,2 One writer (Goldby) was "amazed that the work was published and that it has been actively supported editorially by the Journal of the American Medical Association...."3,4 In pious tone, Lancet's editor supported Goldby's view.5 The latter argued that experimental infection of mentally retarded children is unjustified and that the fact of informed parental consent is irrelevant.

Krugman6 was given an opportunity to respond but not until a month later. He wrote:

Your acceptance of his [Goldby's] criticisms without benefit of our response implies a blackout of all comment related to our studies. This decision is unfortunate because our recent studies on active and passive immunisation for the prevention of viral hepatitis, type B, have clearly demonstrated a "therapeutic