Germany’s Der Spiegel recently published a string of articles indicating that, until the fall of the Berlin Wall, major pharmaceutical companies conducted hundreds of drug trials in East Germany. In all, the reports suggest, more than 50,000 East German patients served as guinea pigs—many without their knowledge or consent. That’s according to documents acquired from the private archives of physicians and from files of the former East German Health Ministry, the Ministry for State Security (Stasi), and Germany’s Institute for Drug Regulatory Affairs.
Apparently drugmakers, mostly from West Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S., tested more than 600 drugs on East German patients, including prematurely born infants, alcoholics, and depressives. “The trials resulted in several fatalities, which the participating hospitals were slow to investigate,” writes Spiegel International. “Some studies had to be discontinued because of serious side effects that had suddenly occurred.” Companies involved include some that are now subsidiaries of drug giants Pfizer (PFE), Bayer (BAY), and Roche (ROG).