Old-age home report under gag

A prosecutor yesterday took delivery of a Health Ministry report on claims that residents at a major retirement home in central Athens were subjected to clinical trials without their consent. But Deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister Giorgos Constantopoulos told a specially convened press conference that prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos had asked him not to disclose the contents of the report on conditions at the Athens Old Age Home, in Ambelokipi. A leaked preliminary version of the 162-page document said health inspectors responding to a complaint have established that residents were used, without their written consent, in a medical study of their cholesterol and triglyceride levels funded by a pharmaceutical firm. It also allegedly pointed to financial irregularities at the home. Yesterday, Constantopoulos toned down earlier remarks, arguing that the case was in the hands of the judiciary. «There are 400 elderly people from all social strata in the retirement home, which is of great interest to researchers,» he said. «But the point at which research ends and experiments start will be investigated by the judiciary, as well as whether there was a breach of the medical code of ethics.» Constantopoulos said that the studies had been approved by the National Drug Organization, but there was no sign of the residents having given their written consent. He added that separate inspections at other old-age homes had revealed lapses in hygiene and staffing. «There are retirement homes that operate without even signboards outside, and which switch off their lights when we approach,» the deputy minister said. «But those who shut up elderly people in such homes are also to blame.»