It has now been about 75 years since the myelographic agent Pantopaque® (called Myodil® in Europe) was first used on large numbers of unsuspecting US Army personnel suffering from low back pain at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda Maryland where many of them were subsequently disabled by the disease entity ‘Adhesive Arachnoiditis.’ The use of Pantopaque®, which had never been officially approved for use, on unsuspecting hospitalized Army personnel clearly represented a sad homegrown version of Human Experimentation. Subsequent to this, Pantopaque® unfortunately became the standard myelographic agent being used in many thousands of patients for spine diagnosis in the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. It has been estimated that as many as 450,000 Pantopaque® myelograms a year in were being performed in the United States the United States between its introduction in 1942 and the 1990 labeled expiration date on its packaging.
The following is part of one of many letters which have been received by Burton Report from World War II veterans who experienced Pantopaque® myelography at that time:
It all started in the US Army where I was hurt during exercises and had to have a disc repaired. They did an oil-base mylogram and then I had 5 other surgeries in the service where the same dye was used each time the did a mylogram. I am now wheelchair bound. I had the Medtronic morphine pump for 5 years and it was a God send until it leaked at the cath site at T10 and T11 and it grew a cyst that paralysed my right leg completely and my left leg to the knee. I now have to cath. myself to unrinate as that function never returned. I wear a brace on my right leg for support when I stand. I belong to ASAMS (Arachnoiditis Sufferers Action and monitoring Society) and it is a great place to be.
Although neurosurgeon William Van Wagenen published, in the year 1942, the information that Pantopaque® caused a “chemical meningitis” in patients and the subsequent medical literature further documented that Pantopaque® not infrequently led to death and disability due to the production of associated adhesive arachnoiditis, this information was, and has continued to be,suppressed by the drug manufacturers and those who then marketed it. Remarkably, Pantopaque® was never banned from clinical use.
Despite the valiant efforts of arachnoiditis self-help organizations created around the world by victims of this disease to promote awareness governments who have looked into the issue and who have documented the existence of this remarkably extensive world-wide public health problem have endeavored mightily to suppress public awareness and enlightenment. Their reasons for doing so appears to relate directly to the economic realization that to acknowledge this widespread health disaster and to provide appropriate care for the many sufferers still alive would involve a significant effort involving a high level of expenditure to legitimately identify and medically treat these adhesive arachnoiditis sufferers scattered throughout the globe. So much for the issue of integrity.
Derek Morrison (News Corp Australia 12.10.16) has been one of the many individuals throughout the world who have been afflicted with adhesive arachnoiditis as a result of ill-advised Myodil oil myelography. Overthe years he has endeavored to bring his research and commentary to the attention of fellow patients and the authorities. Derek’s story has been the subject of a article published in the Sydney Australia Daily Telegraph Sydney 12.10.16.