Your Life is Their Toy - Emanuel Josephson

What Price Life?


The medical and social service rackets cost the public enormously in terms of money, health and life. In money, the cost is many billions of dollars each year. The public of New York City alone expended on its hospitals, for example, forty-five million dollars in 1927, and sixty-four million dollars in 1930. The cost of hospitals and allied medical rackets amounts, in the country, to not less than one billion dollars per year. Contributions to philanthropy and to social service "charities" such as the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association amounted to an additional two billion dollars in 1933. The wages of the forty thousand workers, which the Welfare Council estimated were engaged in social service work in New York City alone in 1928, amounted to over seventy-five million dollars. It is considerably higher now.

The milk racket, with its artificially maintained high price of milk, costs the country tens of millions of dollars each year. Workmens' Compensation Insurance abuses cost the public many hundred million dollars each year. The industrial insurance racket costs the nation almost one billion dollars per year. The cost of abuses of unemployment relief amounts to fantastic figures. Drug monopolies and rackets levy a toll of hundreds of millions each year.

It is the cost of these rackets in terms of human lives that is most significant. Vis-a-vis the interests of Organized Social Service and Organized Medicine human life literally has no value. The taking of lives by these activities ceases to be murder; it becomes "an unavoidable necessity of social progress," and legalized by custom. As in the case of war, the more wholesale the scale on which lives are taken as a result of these rackets, the safer and more respectable the process becomes.


In this respect our democracy contrasts sharply with the autocracy of the Fascist states, in which individual lives count for naught whereas mass murders are subject to legal prosecution. Several striking cases of mass murders of an accidental nature, arising out of medical activities, have been reported from abroad within the past decade. These illustrate the contrast.

From the provinces of Venice and Rovigo in Italy there came reports of the deaths of ten children and the illness of many more, resulting from their injection with a defective vaccine. The vaccine had been marketed by the National Institute of Serum Therapy, at Naples. Though the incident was due to accident and carelessness, the directors of the Institute which prepared the vaccine, Camillo Terni and Mario Testa, were placed under arrest.

In Germany, Professor George Deycke and Dr. Ernst Alstadt were convicted for their responsibility in accidentally causing tuberculosis in two hundred and forty children, of whom seventy-six died. The casualties resulted from an error in preparation or administration of a vaccine intended to prevent tuberculosis.


In both cases, the deaths were accidental in the course of administering treatment of proved value. Though one may deplore the severity of the punishment visited on these eminent physicians, one cannot help feeling that it is correct that the State do its utmost to prevent injury to life and health of its citizenry. Even accidents should be carefully investigated and those responsible admonished. This helps to prevent recurrence of such incidents and to prevent deliberate jeopardy of human lives by dangerous and futile experimentation.

Under our law in the United States, however, even mass deaths due to unwarranted and indefensible human experimentation under the auspices of Organized Medicine or of the agencies of Organized Social Service is not treated as a crime. Many lives have been needlessly sacrificed in this manner within the past decade. Freedom from prosecution of the individuals and groups responsible for these murders is becoming well established by dangerous precedents. If the country fails to act promptly to upset these precedents, all safeguards against the taking of human lives by these groups will vanish.


One of the most flagrant instances of this nature was the death of scores of humans resulting from the administration of the so-called "immune serum" in the treatment of the cases suspected of having infantile paralysis during the epidemic of 1931. This was a case of deliberate risk and sacrifice of human life by experimentation, engaged in by a Committee of the New York Academy of Medicine which was headed by the late Dr. Linsly R. Williams, whose position interlocking Organized Medicine and Social Service has been recounted. Dr. Williams also was mentioned as the prospective incumbent of the post of Secretary of Health which it was reported was to be created for him on the Cabinet of President Roosevelt, after he had written an article, published in Collier's magazine, certifying that Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt was physically and mentally fit for the Presidency of the United States.


The sale of the fake cure and the attendant publicity was designed to build up Dr. Linsly Williams as a national figure and to publicize the Medical-Social-Service Trust which he dominated as a prelude to his expected political advancement and as a prelude to turning over the control of medicine, under national legislation, to the Trust. The infantile paralysis epidemic was used also as a pretext for raising the price of milk to the poor of New York City in the midst of the depression to a higher figure than prevailed in times of prosperity, by the elimination of loose milk. The Milbank Memorial Fund and the Rockefeller Institute played dominant roles in both campaigns.

In this exploit, the Medical-Social-Service Trust, under Dr. Williams, was up to one of its old tricks—stealing the stale thunder of medical experimenters as a pretext for a wild burst of quackish publicity. The "immune serum" was known to be worthless and dangerous long before the human experiment was started. Within two weeks before the date when it was advertised and publicized as a "cure" for infantile paralysis the National Health Institute of the United States Health Public Service reported on a series of cautious experiments and studies made with it on monkeys over a period of three years. The Institute reported that the serum was both worthless and dangerous when used in many of the manners suggested.

The serum goes back to the days of the French investigator, Levaditi, who discovered in 1911 that the virus contained in nasal drippings of victims of the disease, which would cause infantile paralysis when injected into the nervous system of monkeys, could be neutralized and made harmless by the blood of adults or of persons who had had infantile paralysis, when the two were mixed in a test tube. In the New York City epidemic of 1916, Dr. Herman Schwartz had tried out such a serum on a group of his patients. He reported that he had found it not only worthless but actually injurious and deadly when used in certain manners.


The best informed authorities on the subject, including Dr. Josephine Neal and Dr. William Parks of the New York City Health Department Research Laboratories, both of whom were members of the Committee constituting a minority, had unequivocally condemned the serum on the basis of accumulated data. They pronounced it to be of questionable value and actually injurious when used in certain manners. As early as 1929, Dr. Josephine Neal had pointed out in her publications the danger of the use of the serum in poliomyelitis, and had condemned it in no uncertain terms. All the cumulative evidence pointed to the fact that this supposed "cure" exploited by the Academy was both worthless and injurious.

Dr. Williams, himself, characterized the use of this serum at a hearing, of the Board of Censors of the New York County Medical Society of March 11, 1932, as a "clinical study," or experiment on humans, undertaken by the Committee to prove or disprove the value, or lack of value of the serum. Dr. Williams stated at the hearing,

"This study was made, really, upon the recommendation of Dr. Simon Flexner and Dr. George Draper. Dr. Flexner and Dr. Draper were particularly interested and also was Dr. Amoss and Dr. Aycock. DR. NEAL DID A GREAT DEAL OF WORK ON THIS SUBJECT SOME EIGHT OR NINE YEARS AGO IN THE 1918 EPIDEMIC, AND I THINK SHE HAS ALWAYS HAD THE FEELING THAT THIS SERUM WAS OF VERY DOUBTFUL VALUE."

In other words. Dr. Williams placed the responsibility for this disastrous experiment squarely on the Rockefeller Institute, of which he was a director, and on its staff.

At a discussion before the Society of Medical Jurisprudence on October 12, 1931, Dr. Josephine Neal said:

"I have always opposed the use of serum intraspinally on account of the consequent meningeal irritation that so often follows . . . sometimes with disastrous results."


Dr. Sobel, an eminent pediatrician, confirmed Dr. Neal's statement in the following words:

"If the truth were told about the use of the serum intraspinally I am afraid that some sad stories would come out. I have some good reason to believe that several deaths have occurred as a result of its use in this way, and while names such as status thymolymphaticus have been used for the cause of death, it has been more directly attributable to meningeal irritation than anything else."



In spite of its worthlessness and its known danger, the Committee on Poliomyelitis of the New York Academy of Medicine undertook to experiment on humans with this "cure" in manners that were known to be most dangerous, including injection into the spine. It solicited the serum from former victims of the disease among the public, most of whom contributed their blood free of charge. Governor Roosevelt contributed 500 c.c. of serum. In the role of an "authority" on the subject, he wrongly informed the public that doctors who would not use the "cure" were ignorant and not to be trusted. This statement proved as true and reliable as have many of his other statements on the subject of health, medicine and other topics.

The Academy then sold this serum to the public through its agents, young and inexperienced physicians, for as much as the traffic would bear, usually twenty-five dollars a dose. In violation of the municipal law of New York City, even charity patients in municipal hospitals were compelled to pay a minimum price of twenty-five dollars for this supposed cure; and were led to believe that failure to use it meant death or worse.


The outcome of this experiment was exactly what might have been expected on the basis of accumulated data, highly disastrous. The published report of the Committee stated that the serum had been used only in cases which had developed no paralysis. This means that many of those cases did not have infantile paralysis to begin with; for there is no positive method of diagnosis of the disease until paralysis develops. The death rate, however, among the group treated with the serum was considerably higher than among the proved victims of infantile paralysis. The incidence of paralysis among the former was also higher than among those not treated with the "cure."


The case of Marvin Zanger illustrates the danger of the serum. The story is best told in a letter which his mother wrote me.

"November 28, 1931.
Dr. E. M. Josephson
Dear Sir:

"I Read your statement in the papers of a week ago pertaining to the serum which was used during the epidemic. May I state my case, please.

"On August 19, my boy, nine and a half years old, became ill, . . . We took him to the Morrisania Hospital at 168th Street and Walton Avenue, The Bronx. While admitting my child who was so, so very ill, I was told that it was necessary to use serum and it would cost twenty-five dollars. I'm an American woman, and had been reading the paper, but had never noticed a fee for serum mentioned. I spoke of this to one of the doctors and he informed me there was a charge for it at all times. Of course, being a mother and so frightened, I borrowed the twenty-five dollars to pay for it. I sat with my dear child for three hours before Dr. [an agent of the New York Academy of Medicine] came.

"My child died anyway. I have not been able to write you before this, as my heart is broken. But in order to help others who may not be able to borrow as I did, and to help you who are brave and big enough to come forward [I write],

"Mrs. Diana Zanger 1025 Gerard Avenue"

The circumstances and the records of the case left little room for doubt that the death was directly due to the irritation of the serum and its mode of administration.

Another equally tragic case was related by another mother who wrote to Mrs. Zanger:

"Several weeks ago, I read in the New York American about your suit against the New York Academy of Medicine for the loss of your child from infantile paralysis.

"Your sufferings find an echo in my heart, for I am also an unfortunate mother who lost a four-ycar-old son. I have a daughter aged twenty, in the hospital, who is a sufferer from the same dreadful scourge.

"My boy was running around well in the hospital until the serum was administered. He died within five days.

"My daughter was paralyzed following the serum. She is in the hospital for the past seven months. God, if I could only lose my memory completely!"

The suit brought by Mrs. Zanger for the death of her child was settled by the parties out of court.


To stop the sale of this quack cure, I filed charges with Governor F. D. Roosevelt against the Academy and its Committee, accusing them of sacrificing human lives in what they chose to call an "experiment." The Academy pleaded "charity" in defense and extenuation of its acts but stopped the sale of the serum. The fate of these charges reveals in its full extent the sincerity of Roosevelt's "humanitarianism."

My indictment of Dr. Williams, and of the Academy Committee and their serum was very embarrassing to Governor Roosevelt for many reasons. First, Dr. Williams was a personal friend and an important political ally. Second, his Georgia Warm Springs enterprise had been widely publicized as supplying some of the serum used for the "cure." Third, Roosevelt and his campaign managers had used the serum as the basis of large number of "human interest" press releases, and his campaign had played up his "humanitarianism" thus manifested.

For obvious political reasons, the Governor failed to act on the charges himself. He passed the buck to New York State Commissioner of Health, Thomas Parran, now Surgeon General of U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Parran owed his appointment as Commissioner to Dr. Linsly R. Williams, and had himself actively advocated the use of this infantile paralysis "cure."


As might have been expected. Dr. Parran refused to hold hearings on the charges. Several months after they had been filed with him, Parran brushed aside my charges in a letter released to the press, in which he stated that he himself was involved in the charges, consequently they could not be true. Dr. Parran's denial of the truth of the charges followed closely upon the tacit acknowledgment of the Committee in its own report that my charges were absolutely true.

Commissioner Parran recommended, furthermore, that my zeal in protecting the health of the public and in preventing human sacrifice should be rebuked. He recommended that I be censured for my efforts.


I protested in vain to Governor Roosevelt against this formerly un-American procedure of permitting a man accused of a crime, and confessedly guilty, to be his own judge. The Governor replied affirming, in substance, the value of the "cure," directly contradicting the report already rendered by the Committee.

Not content with the white-washing given them by their confederate, Drs. Linsly Williams and Iago Galdston took seriously the recommendation that I be censured. They filed charges against me with the New York County Medical Society from which I had already resigned because of indignation at its failure to lend support to my life-saving efforts. Dr. Williams' charges against me were based on the charges that I had made against him and his Committee, which Dr. Parran conveniently had dismissed on the very day that Dr. Williams was served with a summons in the suit brought against him and the Academy of Medicine for damages for the death inflicted upon Marvin Zanger by the serum.

[Text of Letter] from Your Life is Their Toy by Emanuel Josephson

"This letter was received in reply to my protest against State Commissioner of Health Dr. Thomas Parran's dismissal of my charges branding the infantile paralysis "curative" serum a worthless and dangerous quack remedy, the use of which resulted in many deaths. This letter constituted in substance an animation of the value of the serum. It is dated months later than the report of the Poliomyelitis Committee which fully supported my charges. Dr. Parran has risen to greater heights of authority and power since this incident, on appointment by President Roosevelt. The use of the serum has been abandoned.


Dr. Galdston's charges, however, clearly set forth the anti-social purposes to which the medical-social-service mob put the code of pseudo-ethics which they have established for the medical profession. Dr. Galdston stated that in making the charges designed to protect the public I was guilty of "improper publicity."

Dr. Galdston's charges meant that the code of "ethics" to which he and his clique pay lip-homage is designed merely to protect the Medical-Social-Service Trust in its violation of public interest. The charges which I had made were criminal charges. The law interprets as manslaughter, destruction of life by acts which deliberately risk jeopardy of human life. The law also states that it is the duty of all persons cognizant of crime and suspected crime to promptly communicate that knowledge to proper authorities. Failure to do so means to become an accomplice after the fact. Therefore, the charges of Dr. Williams and Dr. Galdston mean that they and their clique interpret medical "ethics" as requiring of the members of the organization dominated by them to become accomplices in crimes against society.

It is quite characteristic of racketeering gangs to demand of their members secrecy in matters of crimes committed against the public, and to require that they do not "squeal." The charges filed against me signified that my efforts to save human life was regarded by the organization as "squealing."


In spite of the fact that I had resigned from the New York County Medical Society, I gladly agreed to reply to Drs. Williams and Galdston's charges before that body. I demanded, however, that the hearings be fair and honest and not the usual star chamber proceedings, that they be open to the press, that the testimony be recorded and transcribed and a copy given to me, that I be permitted to present all my many witnesses, and that the charges which I proved should be reversed against my accusers.

The hearings had barely begun and only a few of my witnesses had testified, when my accuser Dr. Williams began to beat a hasty retreat and sought my permission to withdraw the charges. It was agreed that I had already proved some of my charges. I initially refused to agree to withdrawal of charges against me because I wished to completely rout my accusers and to force the Society to take action against its own bosses. It was pleaded with me, however, that Dr. Linsly R. Williams was seriously ill and dying of cancer. I, therefore, permitted withdrawal of the charges.

I now realize the folly of relenting. The social service and medical gangs later mocked my kindness which they misrepresented as weakness, and repaid the consideration requested for their boss and extended to him, with slander.


The trail of deaths arising from human experiments with infantile paralysis did not terminate with the tragedies of the "curative" serum. On the contrary, the protection offered to human experimenters by government authorities and the powers of State Medicine, constituted, by the Health Departments and their Commissioners, seconded by the great influence of the interested social service rackets, encouraged further human experimentation.

Financed in part by a small grant from the moneys collected through the "President's Birthday Balls," Dr. John A. Kolmer of Temple University, Philadelphia, undertook to infect a group of children with infantile paralysis virus that was supposedly attenuated by treatment with sodium ricinoleate, a soap made from castor oil. On October 8, 1935, Dr. T. M. Rivers of the Rockefeller Institute, reported the results at a meeting of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Rivers' announcement read as follows:

"Only eight out of twelve thousand children who were injected (with the infective material) developed the disease."

In defense of this situation, Dr. Rivers offered the allegation;

"In the case of the eight children, it is probable that they had incurred the malady before they had been injected."


These deaths still further illustrate the menace of authoritarian, irresponsible State Medicine to the health and life of the public. They should be a warning to repudiate the various Compulsory Health Insurance schemes which the self-same group as were responsible for these killings are now seeking to foist upon the public.


With the growth of the power of Organized Social Service and the trend toward Socialized Medicine the regard for human life is rapidly dropping in this county. In connection with the current anti-syphilitic campaign, two such instances have come to light. The infliction of blindness on numerous victims by the poisonous drug tryparsamide, that has been licensed for use by the Rockefeller Institute, has been related. Many cases in which blindness has been inflicted with this drug have been reported in the medical literature.

From the Mt. Sinai Hospital of New York City there has been reported by Drs. Louis Chargin, Harold T. Hyman and William Leifer an experiment with arsenical s on human guinea pigs the purpose of which was to determine how much could be injected into the blood before dangerous poisoning occurred, and to determine whether syphilis can be cured thereby. Their report appeared in the September 29, 1939, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, with a laudatory preface by Dr. John L. Rice, Commissioner of Health of New York City.

The experiment was financed by grants from the New York and Markle Foundations, and the Friedsam Fund. It was made with the collaboration of the Mt. Sinai, New York and Bellevue Hospitals, the United States Public Health Service and the New York Department of Health. The work was done under the auspices of a research committee appointed by Commissioner Rice which represented the various groups involved. Dr. Theodore Rosenthal, Director of the Bureau of Social Hygiene, Dr. Louis Chargin and Dr. John I. Rice represented the New York City Health Department. Dr. Charles C. Lieb, professor of pharmacology, Dr. Walter W. Palmer, professor of medicine, Dr. Harold T. Hyman, assistant professor of pharmacology of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, represented the Columbia- Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Eugene Du Bois and Dr. Bruce Webster represented the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Drs. Hyman, Chargin and Leifer represented the Mt. Sinai Hospital. Dr. Walter Clark, the Director of the American Social Hygiene Association, represented that organization.

The arsenicals used have long been known to be poisonous, especially in large doses. In the experiment, the drug was given continuously by intravenous drip in large doses that are known to be toxic. Virtually all of the patients thus treated showed some poisonous effects.


Half the patients developed toxic skin eruptions; over one-third showed neuritis that lasted from four to six months; many showed damage to the liver; and two developed convulsions suggestive of inflammation of the brain with hemorrhage. The death of one patient as an immediate result of the treatment is reported by the experimenters. Whether this is the full extent of the injury done to these human guinea pigs, the experimenters themselves do not know. They report that seven failed to report back after discharge from the hospital; and it is conceivable that they might have failed to do so because of serious ailment or death.

The eventual results of the treatment are problematical. The experimenters report that "Seventy-six cases are completely sero-negative."

What this might mean, no one knows. For repeatedly it has been shown that the Wassermann and other serum reactions are not reliable indices of the presence of syphilis in the body. Another item which throws considerable doubt on any conclusions which might be drawn from these human experiments is the fact that in a majority of the patients the poisoning resulted in a fever that ranged as high as 105 F. and lasted as long as ten days. It is known from the experimental work that already has been reported that high body temperatures result in the destruction of the spirochetes of syphilis and in a true cure in animals. No control was made by the committee on the effect of heat alone on a parallel group of patients. It might perfectly well be that the beneficial results that they may have obtained were not a response to the German Dye Trust's arsenicals but to the fever arising from the poisoning which they caused. If that is the case, there are so many harmless ways of creating fever that the risk of arsenic poisoning is utterly unwarranted.

While an attack on this brutal experiment was in the course of publication, there was hastily released from Mt. Sinai Hospital on April 13, 1940, a newspaper story announcing the "discovery" of a "5 day cure" for syphilis by the same group. This was timed and worded so much like a Hollywood press release that it readily could be taken for publicity matter for the film "The Magic Bullet of Dr. Paul Ehrlich."

Curiously enough, a star role was played by the ex-wife of a Hollywood picture director and former Ziegfield Follies beauty. The story related that the drug neo-salvarsan that had been used in the earlier experiments had been abandoned for mapharsan which is a less poisonous arsenical. The story published in the New York Times conveyed the impression that the treatment with this drug was proved free of poisonous effects and safe in an extended study. This hardly seemed possible in view of the fact that only half a year prior the doctors had made no reference to the drug and six months time is utterly inadequate for such a study. The New York Herald Tribune reports with greater accuracy: "A statistical analysis is not yet possible, due to the fact that a year has not elapsed since their completion of the treatments." From what is known of the toxicity of mapharsan, it is scarcely conceivable that it has had no toxic effects in these cases. The significance of this premature publicity remains to be discovered.

The sensational publicity on the risky experiment involving poisoning by large doses of arsenicals, by this influential group of Eastern physicians and their allies of Organized Social Service, the drug industry and the local and Federal governments, contrasts sharply with the suppression in the press of any mention of the brilliant results obtained by a group of less influential physicians of the Miami Valley Hospital of Dayton, Ohio. The explanation may be that their method of treatment of syphilis requires only a few small doses of arsenicals in combination with fever therapy, and is less popular with the drug manufacturers and the specialists in syphilis. That it does not involve nearly the risk to the health and life of the patient as does the Mt. Sinai method, seems to be immaterial to the press and to the authorities involved.

Summing up the experiment, the committee risked the lives of eighty-six human guinea pigs, with one acknowledged death, by injecting them with dangerous doses of a drug that is known to be poisonous. No individual physician, in the capacity of private practitioner, would dare risk human lives in this fashion. But experimental committees sponsored by Organized Medicine and Social Service, and philanthropy, are freed of liability by the law and can safely be less scrupulous regarding human health and life.

It is notable that among the members of the committee are some staunch advocates of Socialized Medicine and Compulsory Health Insurance, and representatives of State Medicine. These incidents and others like them warn the public to ponder seriously before risking their lives by fostering such programs.

It is anomalous that there exist numerous vociferous organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals, but there is no group interested especially in preventing the cruelties of human experimentation. Such groups would vigorously oppose the programs of advocates of Compulsory Health Insurance and the "mass production" which it implies.


The gangster code which masquerades in the form of "medical ethics" offers another indirect menace to the health and life of the community in the form of the conspiracy of insurance companies to protect physicians from the consequences of any malpractice which they might perpetrate. It is quite true that this conspiracy has arisen in defense against the racket of some patients who systematically bring unjustified malpractice suits against physicians for the sole purpose of avoiding payment for services rendered and of swindling the doctor.

It is equally true that medical societies in collaboration with insurance companies are often guilty of "inducing" their members to perjure themselves and to compound felonies, in a conspiracy to protect fellow members against legitimate malpractice suits. Physicians also are virtually barred from testifying for a patient against a colleague either by the terms of the malpractice insurance policy or by pressure and intimidation. It is generally impossible for a victim of malpractice or his attorney to secure expert medical testimony against a member of Organized Medicine. The protection which the law supposedly offers the public against malpractice of physicians has become so twisted and perverted as to bar recovery for the victims of gross and obvious malpractice. This has served to dangerously cheapen human life.

Exemption from liability for malpractice of hospitals, clinics, and other pseudo-charitable or charitable institutions is especially dangerous. For it is in those institutions devoted to "mass production" that the greatest number of persons can be injured by carelessness, neglect and malpractice; and it is in those institutions that the pressure of work and lack of personal responsibility of the medical and other personnel are most apt to combine with lack of liability to form a highly potent factor in encouraging negligence and malpractice.


The legal concept of "accepted medical practice" as a justification of treatment resulting in injury or death, also encourages and protects neglect and malpractice. It is fixed by the political leaders or bosses in medicine who, as has been made clear, are not so constituted as to resist venal impulses. Since surgery is more lucrative to them than the practice of medicine and since the public is more willing to be parted from its money by surgery, it is not surprising that "accepted practice" favors surgery and suppresses successful medical therapy, whenever possible, and thereby increases the hazards of the public.