Company of Major CAP Donor Conducted Deadly Illegal Human Experiments

CAP founder John Podesta / AP

A major financial backer of the Center for American Progress under John Podesta's leadership is the CEO of a company that conducted illegal human experiments that resulted in the deaths of three elderly patients, according to the Washington Examiner.

The relatively unknown Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss is one of CAP's biggest donors, contributing $4.1 million to the group during Podesta's tenure, and earning himself a seat on the progressive group's ten person board of directors.

Wyss was also the CEO of medical device company Synthes, Inc. when it agreed to a multi-million dollar plea deal for the death of three patients during the company's human experiments.

Justice Department attorneys negotiated a $23.8 million plea deal in 2011 with Synthes Inc., and Norian Corporation, its wholly owned subsidiary, and sent four of its U.S. executives to prison. The money was paid to the federal government.

Two of the victims died in a California hospital and the third perished in a Texas medical facility. One of the California victims was Ryoichi Kikuchi, 83, who died on the operating table at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek on Sept. 19, 2009. [...]

The federal judge who heard the case said the company's "pattern of deception is unparalleled."

CAP was the largest recipient of funds from Wyss' foundation, the HJW Foundation, in 2011 and 2012. Podesta, now one of President Obama's closest White House advisers, was hired by the foundation in 2013 and paid $87,000 for his work that year.

The deaths resulted from the decision to enter the spinal surgery field, and to conduct experiments without receiving FDA approval.

Wyss and other Synthes executives decided to enter the highly profitable field of spinal surgery in 2000 with Norian XR, a cement-like mixture of calcium phosphate with barium sulfate.

Company managers claimed the compound could act like bone when injected in the spine in a procedure called "vertebrosplasty."

Federal prosecutors noted that at the time there was "excitement about using Norian for vertebroplasties" at Synthes, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not approved its use on the spine. FDA approval could take at least three years.

Company managers, however, decided not to seek FDA approval for Norian XR on the spine. Instead, they conducted unauthorized human experiments over a four-year period that included the three deaths.