Columbia Medical School’s 200 Dirty Little Secrets

by Project Censored
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Abbott Laboratories gave Columbia Medical School an unrestricted $150,000 grant to test a drug that turned fatal. Columbia Medical School administered a drug called hetastarch to open-heart surgery patients. Hetastarch can induce hemorrhaging and resulted in the deaths of two people and harmed over two dozen more.

Columbia gave this drug to 200 heart patients over a two year span from 1999 to 2001. Columbia had patients sign a waiver, but they did not disclose some of the important side-effects of the drug. For example, the drug when given in high doses causes hemorrhaging and can stop blood clotting from working correctly. At least two patients died after receiving the fluid and more than 24 other patients needed blood transfusions because of the loss of blood. Some of the patients were Spanish-speaking and low income admitted through the emergency room.

Doctors also tried to cover up complications by not promptly addressing them and bringing them to the attention of the review board. The drug was quickly passed by the board and that the board only reviewed 14 of the 215 patient’s cases who were administered the drug.

Title:  Columbia Medical School’s 200 Dirty Little Secrets

Source: The Huffington Post investigative Fund    10/7/2009


Author: Jeanne Lener and Shannon Brownlee

Student Researcher: Casey Morse

Faculty Evaluator: Cindy Stearns Ph.D. and Dorothy Owens M.D.

Sonoma State University:  Sociology of Media Fall 2009

Instructor: Peter Phillips, #16