Saturday, January 16, 2016

Allied medical "therapeutic reformers" at war against Allied military doctors

The much stated reason for early official interest in working at all with fragile, scarce, expensive injected penicillin was because it might heal staph infections in big dirty battlefield wounds that the wonderfully cheap effective, stable and abundant oral Sulfa drugs couldn't defeat.

In fact, this was all sheer bull feathers.

Harry Marks

Because the "therapeutic reformers" (as Harry Marks defined them in THE PROGRESS OF EXPERIMENT) that dominated academic elite medicine and also all the government medical agencies and quasi governmental advisory bodies worked overtime to keep penicillin well away from any battlefield mud for the first three and half years of WWII's six war years.

They fought off despairing requests from frontline military doctors begging for something to help heal the heartbreaking cases they saw before them.

Even with the supposedly famous decision in April 1943 to finally let the US military have a little of their penicillin, the NAS & OSRD still insisted the penicillin was to be used at a stateside military hospital and the test overseen by their most trusted penicillin researcher', civilian Champ Lyons.

Nudge, nudge,NAS's Keefer tells OSRD's Richards, we won't let the Army know we're just using them to further our experimental aims - we'll claim we are simply treating their patients.

Using the new powers that total war brings, and using war necessity as the excuse, they hoped to finally successfully achieve a large scale 'cooperative clinical test' of a new protocol - they were not really trying to end the war as soon as possible.

For the fire-breathing war medicine 'therapeutic reformers' were all essentially chicken hawks.

They had no trouble coldly denying lifesaving penicillin to those dying of SBE, on account of that disease not being judged 'of military interest', but they weren't about to leave their comfy tenured jobs at major research hospitals to head out for some real war research amid the front lines' danger and mud.

Total War or not, they weren't about to hand over credit for developing perhaps medicine's best lifesaver ever to some frontline sawbones.

Pristine cases with no connection to frontline dirt

So the cases they actually hoped to treat with their supposedly 110% military oriented penicillin, from September 1939 till mid 1943, involved civilians with nice clean injuries or with internal infections,  all lying in nice clean big city hospital beds.

Whatever successes and failures they revealed with penicillin, these cases bore little relevance as to whether penicillin, when applied locally into huge big gaping dirty wounds in a frontline aid post, could still kill all of bacteria present, without being rendered inert by binding to dirt, dead flesh, pus, blood and serum, as happened too often with the sulfas.

Historians of penicillin, generally, very much like fellow academics and generally don't like the military mind very much, and so see no reasons to ever query this wide contrast between what the penicillin establishment said and what they actually did...

No comments:

Post a Comment