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May 28, 1997

President Limits Secret Experiments on Humans

JAMA. 1997;277(20):1583. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540440017006

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PRESIDENT CLINTON has directed federal agencies to adopt stricter rules for the conduct of classified research on human subjects. The directive follows most of the recommendations made by a committee he appointed in 1994 to investigate radiation experiments conducted on unsuspecting people by the US government during the Cold War.

In his March 27 memorandum, Clinton directed federal agencies to propose new rules that would require scientists conducting classified research on humans always to obtain informed consent from potential subjects, to tell the subjects that the research is classified and explain what classification means, and, in most cases, to disclose to subjects the identity of the agency sponsoring the research. The rules also should require agencies to keep permanent records of all secret research involving humans, establish a more independent review process, and require the approval of each project by the head of the agency conducting the secret research.


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