Sun Mar 20 2016
Lennox Castle Hospital
The researchers described an eight-year-old epileptic boy as “unlovable” before the trials began but after around 1,100 doses of a powerful tranquilizer he became “almost likable”.
Such medical experimentation will form part of the SNP’s child abuse inquiry, with chair Susan O’Brien QC to launch the call for evidence in Glasgow this week.
The group of nine boys and three girls were subjected to testing while in the care of the state at Lennox Castle Hospital, near Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The children – as well as four young women – were all described as “mentally handicapped”, although in two patients this was “of the non-specific genetic type”.
This unlovable 8-year-old epileptic boy ‘held a reign of terror’ of bites, slaps, kicks and nips over his unfortunate fellow patients
One case history
They were given droperidol, a tranquiliser which was banned as an antipsychotic in Britain and America in 2001 after being linked to heart problems and a number of deaths.
It is still licenced for use in hospitals to prevent nausea in post-operative patients, although the maximum dose for under-18s is 1.25mg.
The youngsters in Lennox Castle were given up to 60mg a day for up to 19 months, with the average dose 20mg a day.
Each patient was also given a cocktail of other drugs to counter the “extrapyramidal side-effects” caused by droperidol – such as tremors, hallucinations, hyperactivity and anxiety.
Two patients suffered so severely they had to be removed from the study, which was published in the Journal of International Medical Research in 1980.
One case history states:
“This unlovable 8-year-old epileptic boy ‘held a reign of terror’ of bites, slaps, kicks and nips over his unfortunate fellow patients. Previous attempts to control his aggression with thioridazine, pericyazine and haloperidol had been unsuccessful.
“For the last 18 months he has been maintained on a regime of droperidol (10 mg b.d. [twice daily]), benzhexol (2 mg b.d.) and phenytoin (90 mg b.d.) and has since not bitten a single person.
“Furthermore, his hold upon the ward has ceased and he himself has been the victim of other patients’ aggression. He is now described as being ‘almost likeable’.”
A nine-year-old epileptic boy was described as “very overactive, moody and bad tempered” before the droperidol regime transformed him into “the most popular child in the ward”.
Two 10-year-old boys who were prone to self-injury – one with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and one with hyperkinesis – also showed improvement.
The study concludes: “Oral droperidol thus appears to offer an advantage over conventional treatments for the management of behavioural disorders in the mentally handicapped.”
However, Gabrielle Shaw, CEO of National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said yesterday: “This is a grotesque example of how some of the most vulnerable children in society have been abused when they should have been protected. To hear an eight year old boy being described as ‘unlovable’ is de-humanising and unacceptable. Even more extraordinary is how relatively recent this was.”
Droperidol was withdrawn from sale in the UK following a review by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
An MHRA spokeswoman said the review was instigated “following concerns about its effect on heart rhythm (QT prolongation) particularly following long term use of high doses. This review resulted in the manufacturer voluntarily withdrawing the product from the market in 2001.
“The droperidol product that is used as an anti-emetic (severe post-operative nausea and vomiting) is used at much lower doses and for short periods of time.”
Alan Draper, parliamentary liaison officer for the In Care Abuse Survivors group, which represents survivors north of the Border, said the study should form part of the forthcoming inquiry.
“These children were simply given to doctors to experiment on and nobody was looking out for their interests. They had carte blanche to do as they wished. Who had responsibility for the children, was it the local authorities, the health boards or the government? There will be a number of these survivors who will come forward to the inquiry. This experimentation may have been done in good faith but who was protecting the best interests of the child? These were living human beings being experimented on because they had been abandoned by their families and the state just let it happen.”
Lennox Castle Hospital was opened in 1936 and was home to thousands of mentally handicapped patients before it finally closed its doors in 2002.
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which has inherited the hospital records, said the health board “would fully co-operate with any official enquiry”. Found Here
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