Knesset to Approve Bill Banning Experiments on Humans

The first bill regulating human experimentation will be brought to the Knesset for its first reading tomorrow. The bill, which the legislators are expected to pass, specifies a three-year prison term for anyone convicted of conducting medical experiments on human beings without the state's permission.

"Medical experiments in humans must preserve the subjects' lives, health, dignity, liberty, privacy and all rights afforded by law," reads the proposed bill.

Currently, experiments involving human subjects are subject to administrative regulations alone. Sources in the Knesset said they expected the bill to receive a majority vote on its first reading.

The bill, proposed by MK Shlomo Breznitz (Kadima), was filed against the backdrop of the State Comptroller's May 2005 report, which exposed grave issues regarding how experiments on humans are carried out and supervised. The proposed bill includes establishing a special unit that would oversee such experiments.

"Health officials have been known to take advantage of vulnerable patients, some of them mentally unbalanced, recruiting them for experiments that sometimes result in serious effects," Breznitz said.

The bill would also prohibit the use of minors for experiments, unless the minor indicates that he or she is willing to participate. Currently, regulations specify that a parent or guardian's consent is sufficient. Additionally, the proposed bill states that patients whose medical conditions improve after receiving an experimental treatment would be entitled to continue the treatment after the study is concluded.