Patients who unknowingly took part in experiment sue hospital
Some 4,000 smokers were administered injection that contained psychiatric medication.
Two women will Wednesday submit a class action suit for NIS 105 million against Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva and the Clalit Health Maintenance Organization, claiming that they were given an experimental cocktail of drugs without their knowledge or consent.
The two women, who wanted to stop smoking, had allegedly been given injections without being told they were participating in an experiment, and without being asked to sign consent forms, as required by health regulations.
Several people had complained of varying degrees of side effects after being administered the injection, and some had even required emergency treatment. Following the Haaretz expose of the affair two and a half years ago, a committee established by the Health Ministry ordered a halt in all treatment with the injections.
Some 4,000 smokers, including Labor MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, were given the drug cocktail in injection form at Beilinson Hospital and at Professor Shimon Spitzer's private clinic.
The cocktail included three drugs, one of which stops the heart rate from dropping and another which is a psychiatric drug that may impede judgment.
The attorney submitting the suit to the Tel Aviv District Court, Dori Kaspi, based the case on a commission of inquiry report stating that Beilinson Hospital had only been authorized to administer the injection to 20 patients.
Despite this directive, Clalit HMO branches recommended the injections to their patients. The treatment method was based solely on one article published 20 years ago by a doctor named Nicholas Bashinsky, who spent several years in an American jail and lost his license to practice medicine.
A professional opinion by an expert on clinical pharmacology attached to the suit said that to date, there had been no professional literature on the use of Bashinsky's injection, or any combination of the medications included in it, for treatment of a smoking addiction.
The expert added that the experiment did not have a control group, and had not based the number of people treated on any accepted statistical system. He said that there was no way to evaluate the treatment results, and therefore there was no justification to give people this treatment.
An edition of the Channel 2 program "Fact," which will be aired Thursday, reveals that Professor Spitzer continued to administer the injections despite knowing about the commission of inquiry, and was even secretly filmed explaining the treatment to a person who wanted to quit smoking. Spitzer was subsequently summoned for a hearing by the Health Ministry and was told to stop administering the injections.
The deputy director-general of the Health Ministry, Dr. Yitzhak Berlovitch, announced that he was considering personal action against senior Beilinson officials.
Following the expose, the hospital said Tuesday that a public committee should be established to reexamine the treatment, saying that the commission's conclusions were erroneous, and that the treatment should be continued for the benefit of the public.