Dan Markingson was enrolled in an anti-psychotic drug trial at the University of Minnesota. He committed suicide almost ten years ago, during the course of the drug trial. When Dan was initially enrolled in the study, a doctor at the University of Minnesota determined that Dan “’lack[ed] the capacity to make decisions regarding [his] treatment.’” Consequently, Dan probably could not have provided informed consent to participate in the study. As the study progressed, Dan’s mental state deteriorated and his mother asked to have him removed from the study. However, despite his mother’s request, the University of Minnesota refused to end Dan’s participation. Subsequently, Dan committed suicide.
In recent years, it has been reported that the study’s design may have been flawed and that the trial investigators may have been influenced by financial conflicts of interest – the study was funded by he pharmaceutical industry. However, the University of Minnesota has not only refused to open a new investigation into the issue, but also “appeared to threaten the leading bioethicist dissent, Dr. Carl Elliot.” Subsequently, as previously reported on this blog, Dr. Elliot claimed that the consent documents for two separate patients enrolled in the trial were exactly the same, indicating ethical misconduct. Furthermore, Dr. Elliot has obtained additional documents that bring the study’s administration into question. Despite this potential new evidence of misconduct, the University of Minnesota has refused to investigate the matter. As a result, Dr. Elliot has created an online petition in the hopes of initiating “an outside investigation.” Read more here.