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[Perspectives] The unintended ethics of Henry K Beecher

In the summer of 1966, the medical profession was hit with a bombshell. Henry K Beecher published “Ethics and Clinical Research”, a landmark article, often called “Beecher’s bombshell”, which described 22 examples of clinical research he deemed ethically questionable. Beecher hit his mark. Describing the aftershock in the pages of this journal, one writer explained, “His article aroused controversy among American research-workers and highlighted a problem which had grown insidiously and almost unnoticed by the generality of American doctors”.