Tuesday, February 8, 2011

University of Minnesota Regents 

refuse to reopen case of suicide in drug study

See no evil, hear no evil, do no evil?

Patient agreed to take part to avoid being committed.

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents has turned down a request by eight professors and ethicists to review events surrounding the suicide of a participant in a clinical psychiatric drug trial.

In a letter released Monday, the board noted that the 2004 death of Dan Markingson was reviewed, without sanctions against the U, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and the state attorney general's office.

While noting the tragedy of the death, the letter stated, "we do not believe university resources should be expended re-reviewing a matter ... which has already received such exhaustive analysis by independent authoritative bodies."

Markingson was enrolled in a drug trial comparing the effectiveness of medications for patients with schizophrenia. The U of M was just one site for the national study, funded by drugmaker AstraZeneca.

The recruitment of Markingson troubled the bioethics professors, including Carl Elliott, who wrote about the case last year in Mother Jones magazine. To avoid commitment in a locked institution, Markingson agreed to an outpatient commitment and to a court order requiring him to follow the instructions of his doctor. That doctor, psychiatrist Steven Olson, was also the leader of the drug study in which Markingson was then enrolled.

The professors weren't alone in their criticism. Minnesota's mental health ombudsman questioned the recruiting practice. The Legislature has since banned patients under civil commitments from being able to consent to medical research.


And the angels wept...

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