Mexico City – An experimental procedure carried out by doctors at Mexico's National Neurology and Neurosurgery Institute on some 500 unwitting patients caused 370 deaths between 1994 and 2007, activists said.
Representatives of groups like Democratic Doctors and Victims of Crimes Against Humanity, among others, told a press conference in Mexico City that the prodecure was practiced without patients' consent.
The organizations said that a complaint has now been filed with the Mexican Attorney General's Office.
The procedure consists of implanting a permanent intercranial device in hydrocephalus patients that was "never approved by international health authorities" and that "has caused damaging side effects and even death," Dr. Rodolfo Ordanza said.
The specialist said that what are used worldwide for such conditions are expensive valves and tubes, but "to save almost 90 percent of the material it is substituted with a few centimeters of an experimental material called Tygon that has no scientific worth or validity."
Maria de Lourdes Walkup, whose body was left half-paralyzed by the procedure, demanded that authorities penalize those responsible and repair the damage done.
Hundreds of such implants have been done in this hospital, including to newborns, "without carrying a regular review of the research and without providing immediate information to those who suffer damaging complications."
The procedure has systematically affected vulnerable types of patients, activist Maria Lopez said.
The groups filing the complaint recalled that under Mexican law, experimental treatments or surgeries require the patients' previous consent.
The lower house of Mexico's Congress approved on Thursday measures requiring public hospitals to give free medical attention to people suffering injury from scientific research studies.
The reforms also establish a basis for conducting research on human beings.