Panel recommends US create system to compensate medical research victims

A panel of experts tasked with reviewing decades-old experiments on Guatemalans recommended Tuesday that the U.S. create a system for compensating people harmed by medical research.

The panel was formed after it was revealed last year that the federal government in the 1940s supported unethical research on sexually transmitted diseases. Doctors involved in the research sought to infect hundreds of Guatemalan prisoners, soldiers and mental patients to test the effectiveness of penicillin for treating syphilis and other diseases.

"The United States should implement a system to compensate research subjects for research-related injuries," the panel concluded. "One promising model might be based on the U.S. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines."

The panel points out that many countries — and some U.S. research institutions — already have compensation systems in place for research-related injuries.