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1950 to 1980 Uncertified drugs tested on Basel patients

The University of Bern study found that over 1000 patients were affected by the administering of unapproved drugs.


A study has found that a Basel psychiatric clinic regularly administered unapproved drugs to patients between 1950 and 1980. It is unclear whether the patients were aware or informed of the nature of the drugs, some of which were never certified.

More than 1000 patients were affected, particularly sufferers of schizophrenia, depression, and mania, according to the University of Bern study. There may also have been close cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry, but the report cites a lack of sources to confirm this.

Dr Urs Germann, the study author, based his findings on 330 patient files showing that the University of Basel’s psychiatric clinic tested at least 60 unapproved products on patients over the 30-year period.

The clinic’s successor, the modern-day University Psychological Clinics of Basel (UPK), commissioned the report and first revealed its findings to the Swiss Public Television SRF programme Schweiz Aktuell. It highlighted that the period in question was a “grey area” with no overarching legal framework. Medical records from the 1950s and 1960s are scarce and incomplete, it said.

The UPK also stressed that the tests did not systematically target particularly vulnerable patients and were not conducted on children. However, the report shows that women were generally more affected than men and that some patients underwent involuntary treatment.

Medical research in Switzerland has been regulated at a federal level since the year 2000, since the passage of the Federal Act on Medicinal Products and Medical Devices.external link and agencies/dos

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