Mayor Apologizes For The Thirty Years Of Experiments Performed On Black Inmates In Philadelphia
From the 1950s through the 1970s, University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Albert Kligman began conducting dermatological, biochemical, and pharmaceutical experiments on predominantly Black inmates at Holmesburg Prison. Three hundred Philadelphia prisoners were exposed to viruses, fungi, asbestos, and multiple chemical agents, as reported by CBS News.
Though Kligman would go on to create Retin-A, a treatment for wrinkles and acne, many of his test subjects developed lifelong health issues. In the year of 2000, many of the prisoners filed a lawsuit against the institution, but it was thrown out due to the statute of limitations. Kligman eventually passed away in 2010.
Now, the city of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania have issued formal apologies about the medical racism and exploitation the experimented had faced, while still denying compensation to the actual victims and/or their families.
“Without excuse, we formally and officially extend a sincere apology to those who were subjected to this inhumane and horrific abuse,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “We are also sorry it took far too long to hear these words.”
The university in question has attempted to make amends by removing Kligman’s name from awards and lectures. They are now directing a portion of their research funds to those that focus on the dermatological issues of people of color.