Friday, January 29, 2016

Mahoney uses penicillin 'which had been released to him for other purposes' to cure syphilis

Personally, I believe both published accounts of where exactly Dr John F Mahoney's team got the non-protocol-authorized penicillin to test his off the wall/ highly successful theory that penicillin could kill syphilis germs inside the body.

One account says  he liberated/stole some the CMR/COC penicillin granted to him with his assent that he would follow strict protocol and only study penicillin's cure rate against sulfa-fast gonorrhea.

Another account says says he grew his own crude penicillin (in my view, probably with help from Dr Gladys Hobby) to further his successful effort.

I think Mahoney's team started with (A) and later moved onto (B).

Now Dr Henry Dawson was sharply criticised - during the war and by academics after the war - when he did so similarly, while seeking the successful cure for SBE, a disease that hitherto was quickly and invariably fatal.

Syphilis is also deadly but hardly kills one in a few months like SBE.

Syphilis patients could wait a year or two for more abundant penicillin - while denying penicillin to SBEs was to sentence them to death as surely as with a gas chamber.

But keeping out recruits likely to get SBE is what draft board medical examinations are for, so the fact that many young civilians  were needlessly dying from it was judged by these civilian elite doctors to be hardly a medical priority.

But they saw gonorrhea (and later syphilis) as a big big military problem.

Particularly as VD was often deliberately acquired by America's too-few-already frontline combat troops, hoping a couple of months of old style VD treatment might keep them from an early combat death.

The civilian elites in the rear echelon figured that if penicillin could cure them in a day or two, it would stop all that sort of nonsense.

Mahoney,Dawson and Queen deserve far more credit - Camp Lyons far less so

I believe that Mahoney's early - verbal only - Spring 1943 report to the military about the efficacy of penicillin against the increasing number of sulfa-resistant cases of VD was the real catalyst to the mass production of penicillin by the WPB.

But since he later broke all the 'cooperative (read coercive)  investigation' protocols, Mahoney's early VD efforts were ignored and COC favourite Champ Lyons' work at Bushnell Hospital got all the OSRD-NAS public praise.

Academics have followed the OSRD-NAS cue ever since.

Ironically, the Bushnell work also actually began when some doctors there went outside the COC-controlled protocols and grew their own crude penicillin to try and treat some combat-acquired cases of severe chronic osteomyelitis.

In a panic, the OSRD-NAS stepped in to quickly bring their work within their protocols and thus save their own reputations.

So too these Bushnell crude penicillin heroes were ignored in the later OSRD-NAS orgy of bureaucratically self congratulation.

Interestingly, while Dawson and Mahoney both broke protocol and both 'stole' government-controlled wartime penicillin, only Dawson (dealing with a 'militarily unimportant disease') got flak from postwar academics --- while Mahoney, dealing with militarily important VD, got only praise.

This highly utilitarian approach to ethics probably says as much about the real moral values of post-Nuremberg academics, as it does about the moral centres of wartime Beltway bureaucrats...

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