Monday, December 8, 2014

Mostly poor people ALL OVER THE WORLD denied life --- by wartime's Republican-dominated NAS death panel

American doctor-run death panels did exist and they did sentence people to an inevitable death based on mostly eugenic driven considerations.

It happened during WWII.

The patients denied access to penicillin (that was the only thing that could save their lives) were all suffering from subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE) that was then a leading cause of death for poor, minority and immigrant youths - the final deadly stage of childhood attacks of rheumatic fever.

Actually the entire spectrum of possible ways to die from rheumatic fever (known as Rheumatic Heart Disease or RHD) was the leading cause of death for school age children and youths in all of the industrialized world - far far more than polio for example - and would remain so till the 1960s.

But you won't know this unless you were very poor ; it wasn't a middle class disease.

Now this story of the wartime bureaucratic denial of penicillin to SBE patients isn't totally unknown to students of the history of wartime penicillin - but most think that this diktat was limited to American patients only.

But I have been tracing how the same American-originated list of diseases to be treated (or not) by GPs using this new penicillin kept re-appearing world wide, always with virtually the same wording.

So far I have traced the publication of this diktat (intended to apply to all GPs) in journals or newspapers in Canada, Britain, Australia , and now New Zealand.

The New Zealand newspaper report in June 1944 was franker than most - the nation wasn't making its own penicillin but was wholly dependent on penicillin given to it (via Australia) by America.

But the report indicated that the penicillin gift came with strings - the Kiwis had to agree to refrain from using the medication on diseases that were being ignored in America and in all the other Allied nations.

The disease the Kiwis and all the others were specifically told to ignore was SBE.

The NAS panel headed up by Dr Chester Keefer - himself an expert on SBE - was in a dispute with Dr Martin Henry Dawson and his supporters who was insistent their numerous patient cures indicated that penicillin and only penicillin could cure SBE and do so completely.

(Dawson and his supporters were 100% right by the way !)

If news came to American SBE patient families that in New Zealand SBEs were being treated and cured by penicillin, Dawson would have a further ammunition to inadvertently embarrass Keefer.

Inadvertent because while Dawson was a rank amateur on SBE until he started in with penicillin (and was anyone never one to be mean to fellow scientists),  Keefer had made SBE's cure his life's work.

But Keefer had backed the wrong horse as to the best drug to cure SBE and wasn't willingly to publicly back down and grant that Dawson was right.

Keefer had other more public excuses for his denying penicillin to SBEs , but this was the real reason ...

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