Wednesday, April 30, 2014

NEW DOCUMENTS: Serious Adverse Event reports from the University of Minnesota/AstraZeneca CLEARS study

I am posting these documents before I have looked carefully at them, in case they are helpful to anyone trying to find out what actually happened to their family members in a psychiatric research study at the U. The records officer has finally given me access to the Serious Adverse Event reports filed by Stephen Olson to the IRB for the AstraZeneca CLEARS study (A Study of the Cataractogenic Potential of Seroquel and Risperdal in the Treatment of Participants With Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder.)  I am spotting a number of things that alarm me, but I would welcome any comments, either here or on Facebook, or on your own blog or website. I would especially welcome comments from psychiatrists, former research subjects and their families.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do sexual abuse of children and research misconduct have something in common?

Other than the fact that we seem to have a lot of both in the Twin Cities?

The question comes from Richard Smith.

Hold the date: Our next Dan Markingson action on Friday, May 9

More to come on this soon, but for now, make a note: we will be organizing our next action on the Markingson case around the Board of Regents meeting on Friday, May 9, during the lunch hour.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why physicians should not accept money from the pharmaceutical industry

If we have learned anything from a decade’s worth of litigation, it is that the pharmaceutical industry pays the vast majority of physicians for one reason: to market their drugs. And why would we have ever thought otherwise? Pharma companies are not charitable organizations. They are not in the business of education, or philanthropy, or poverty relief, or even — let’s be honest — health care. Their business is to manufacture and sell drugs. Unlike most any other businesses, however, pharmaceutical companies must go through an intermediary in order to sell their product. This places physicians in a position of singular trust. They stand between corporations and the vulnerable, sometimes desperate patients that those corporations call “customers.”

How have physicians managed that delicate task? Make that judgment for yourself. In 2010, the pharmaceutical industry surpassed the defense industry as the leading defrauder of the federal government. Pharmaceutical companies were forced to pay $19.8 billion in penalties over a 20-year period, with a dramatic upswing coming in the mid-2000s. Although the largest category of penalty was for off-label promotion, that particular violation was just the visible face of a more far-reaching scandal. Thanks to the efforts of whistleblowers, expert witnesses, and investigative reporters, we know that pharmaceutical companies have rigged clinical trials, buried unfavorable results, published ghostwritten journal articles, paid kickbacks high-prescribers, bullied academic critics, produced fake medical journals, and manipulated treatment guidelines. Without the help of physicians, very little of this could have been accomplished.

Read the rest of my latest anti-pharma sermon in Neurology Clinical Practice.

Quiet desperation or impotent rage?

I'll have both, thanks.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Come the revolution

Well, I have to confess that I was astonished by the crowd packed into the auditorium for yesterday's presentation on the Markingson case (and the Swanson case) in the medical school.  I know it can't have been terribly comfortable for all those people sitting on the stairs and standing along the walls, but I was pleased to see it anyway.  Even more gratifying was the support of the crowd, which was overwhelmingly on the side of justice.  There have not been many high points in the battles over this case, but yesterday's event was one of them. It almost felt as if the revolution is coming.

We all owe a special thanks to Mike Howard and Kathy Swanson for having the courage to come to the medical school and speak out so forcefully.  I only wish that Mary Weiss could have been there.

We passed around a sign-up sheet for people who may be able to help with a protest, vigil or another as-yet-to-be-determined action surrounding the next meeting of the Board of Regents on May 8-9.  If you'd like to help and didn't get your name on the sheet, get in touch with me here or through the Facebook page, Community Alliance for Ethics in Minnesota Psychiatry.

Onward. Or, as they used to say in Durban: Amandla!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Scholars to Kaler: Markingson review process is "so flawed as to preclude any chance the resulting report will be seen as legitimate"

The leaders of the scholars calling for a review of the Markingson case have written to President Eric Kaler condemning his efforts to avoid investigating the case.  You can read their letter here.

A blog post by Trudo Lemmens can be found on the University of Toronto Faculty of Law web page.

Tomorrow, Friday, April 25: "When Research Subjects Die"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

IRB is "reserving judgment" on whether to investigate Jean Kenney, but says it is "investigating current human research practices in the Department of Psychiatry.”

On March 4, Leigh Turner and I wrote a letter to the University of Minnesota IRB, asking for an investigation into all research studies involving former study coordinator Jean Kenney. (Kenney was the subject of a corrective action by the Minnesota Board of Social Work in November, 2012.)  last week we received a reply.  The IRB is "reserving judgement" on whether to investigate studies involving Kenney, but says it is currently investigating research practices in the Department of Psychiatry. 

Here is our reply.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Under a stay of commitment and "harassed to enroll into a research study at the University"

Many times over the past year or so, I have been contacted by people telling me of their experience with research misconduct in the Department of Psychiatry. Some have asked me to keep the communications confidential.  However, many have just vanished with no explanation.  After we have exchanged a few emails and made plans to meet or talk by phone, they have simply stopped responding.  Some of these people have been patients or families of patients, but at least two have identified themselves as health care professionals.

I don't know what to make of this, but I will confess that I find it alarming.  It would be one thing if this happened once or twice, but when it happens half a dozen times in a six month period, it is hard not to see a pattern.

Last spring, I posted a note on the Community Alliance Facebook page, asking if anyone knew of violations of "Dan's Law" -- in other words, mentally ill patients under a commitment order who were being recruited into research studies.  I got the following email message, but after only a couple of email exchanges -- which seemed quite cordial --- the person stopped responding.  I am posting the message with the name removed.  (The person did not ask me to keep the conversation confidential. My efforts to get in touch again over the past few weeks have gotten no reply.)

If you have had experiences like this, I would be grateful if you could get in touch with me; and if you have already contacted me and then decided not to follow through and speak further, I would be grateful to hear why.

Dear Mr. Carl Elliott,
I was referred to your Facebook page and the call for anyone having had issues with civil commitment and also being asked to join a research study. 

Our daughter was approached in 2011 while being an outpatient at the University of Minnesota psychiatric health clinic, she was 18 at the time.  My husband and I had been in the process of petitioning the court for Guardianship for her as she had reached her eighteenth birthday, and then would be without parental control as far as her mental health issues went.

We were shocked when she told us her doctors assistant at the clinic had tried to enroll her into a drug research study, and that she now was diagnosed as having BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder.  All of this took place over the course of a month.  We met with the county attorney's office and came to an agreement that we would be granted Guardianship with court approval.  We assumed that would take care of everything.  It didn't. 

Our daughter continued to regress and after having her hospitalized we were faced with having to have her civilly committed as mentally ill and dangerous to herself.  The hospital social services and her psychiatrist initiated the civil process and we understood that she would likely be released back home or sent to a facility for a longer recovery process.  She eventually was granted what is called a "stay," and informed by the court that she would now have a county case manager and have to reappear in court in 90 days for an evaluation. 

It was during this 90 day period that she was what I refer to as being harassed to enroll into a research study at the University by the same staff that had first seen her in the out-patient clinic.  The same psychiatrist and the same assistant.

We had numerous phone conversations with the University clinic and attempted to contact the psychiatrist but he never responded.  We then changed her care to another clinic and psychiatrist without any hassle.

I'm not sure if this is the type of information you are seeking, but I hope it is helpful. 


Most faculty members would like to see a higher behavioral standard than “freedom from felony prosecution.”

Former IRB chairman Dr. Dale Hammerschmidt comments on the Markingson scandal in today's MinnPost.

"I will register my disappointment, however, at the university’s response. On several occasions, we have been told that the university and its investigators have been 'exonerated,' because the attorney general chose not to prosecute and the federal oversight bodies (FDA and OHRP) did not effect any sanctions. I think that most faculty members understand that a decision not to prosecute is quite a few steps shy of 'exoneration,' and I think most faculty members would like to see a higher behavioral standard than 'freedom from felony prosecution.'"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Looks good! Go for it!

Editorial cartoon courtesy of Kai Rasmussen, a student at Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. (Thanks, Kai!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hold the date: symposium on Condoleezza Rice visit

Wednesday, April 23, 4:30-6:00 PM, in Cowles Auditorium in the Humphrey School.  More information coming soon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

This is what "ethics" at the FDA looks like

Remember the prenatal dex controversy, and the ugly role played by the American Journal of Bioethics?  It just got worse.  Read about it on the Impact Ethics blog.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 25 Event at the U: When Research Subjects Die: The Case of Dan Markingson

When Research Subjects Die: The Case of Dan Markingson

Presentation and Discussion
Carl Elliott (Center for Bioethics) and Families of Psychiatric Research Subjects

Date: Friday, April 25, 12:15 to 1:15
Place: Moos 2-520, University of Minnesota

Sponsored by Advancing Urban Health Equity

You can find a link to a Facebook event for the presentation here; please use it to invite your friends and acquaintances.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An expert on civil rights? Seriously?

 Samuel L. Myers Jr., the Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, writes this about the upcoming "civil rights" lecture by Condoleezza Rice:

"The University of Minnesota could have gotten for free a true hero of the civil rights movement: my Dad and role model, Samuel Myers Sr., the first African American to earn the Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1949. He was assigned to an Army base in Louisiana and protested the exclusion of black officers from the officers' club, nearly resulting in his court martial. He fought for the creation of federal funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) during his tenure as the president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. As a foreign service officer in the U.S. State Department, long before Rice arrived, and then as the financial adviser to Latin America in the Agency for International Development, this man fought the lonely battles -- often jeopardizing his career -- to redress racial discrimination segregation."


(Even better: read the open letter to Rice from Myers.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let's hit them where it hurts: Operation Gopher the Wallet

First, thanks to all of you who have called Governor Dayton or the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents. We are very grateful for your help in demanding action to protect research subjects at the university. Today, we are rolling out the second phase of our campaign, and we need to ask for your help again.

If we are going to get action, we need to hit the university where it hurts: the wallet. Over the past week, some of us have begun writing to major donors. We are asking them to consider ending their donations to the university unless the administration takes action to protect psychiatric research subjects.  We hope you will consider doing the same.

At this link, you will find a list of major donors, along with addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases, email addresses.  We would like for you to write, call or email them. Of course, you are entirely free to compose your own letter or email. But if you need help, we have prepared a template for a letter or email that you can find at this link.  

You might also want to send copies of articles about the Dan Markingson scandal and other issues. Among the articles you might consider are:

For the sake of efficiency, we would like to keep track of which donors have been contacted. So when you call or write to a donor, please leave a comment at or send an email to me at my university email address. 

Again, thank you very much.  It has been a hard battle, and we could not have fought it for so long without your help.

Should the U honor politicians who authorize torture? Nearly 200 professors say no

Read the statement on the upcoming Condoleeza Rice visit  here.  And the MinnPost coverage here.

"This was not research misconduct lite – this was the real deal and what has been happening is, by any measure, a cover-up extraordinaire."

Psychiatrist Mickey Nardo writes:

"A research program that condones or allows that kind of recruitment and inclusion deserves thorough investigation, and perhaps shutting down. The University wants to limit the investigation they have been forced into to remain limited to the program now – not what happened then. That allows Dr. Olson to continue to aver that they did "nothing wrong" and Dr. Schultz to make tapes like the one above selling that academic programs [his academic program] as the right places to do clinical trials. That should be true, but in this case, it wasn’t. This was not research misconduct lite – this was the real deal and what has been happening is, by any measure, a cover-up extraordinaire."

If you have not been following Nardo's blog posts on the Markingson scandal, it is time to start.  Today's post gets right to the heart of the issue.

And don't forget to scroll down to the comments by Bernard Carroll, former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University, who writes: "We might even go further and say that Dan Markingson was viewed as a commodity and a means to obtain funding. Meeting the protocol conditions took precedence over sensible clinical decisions… it’s not as though there were no warning signs leading up to his death."

Deeper and deeper they dig

"With the $16 billion college sports industry under siege from lawsuits and player-unionization efforts, one academic scandal—at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina—has come to represent key aspects of the debate about Division 1 football and basketball players. In response, UNC’s top leadership continues to try to deflect attention from widespread classroom misconduct by attacking the low-ranking staff tutor who helped reveal the scandal."

Go Heels.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dr. Charles Schulz explains why you should be in a psychiatric study at the U of Minnesota

Don't laugh. Just make a call.

"We pay doctors, they give us prescriptions. We don't pay doctors, we don't see prescriptions for our drugs."

In Poland, this is called a bribe.  At the University of Minnesota, we call it a "consulting fee."

Psychologist diagnoses mental illness in woman he'd never met

I wonder if he sent her a bill.

It's not about free speech. It's about torture.

University of Minnesota alum Chuck Turchick writes:

"In describing his opposition to torture, John McCain famously said: 'This is not about terrorists; it's about us.' Similarly, in a very real sense, this invitation is not about Dr. Rice; it's about us, the University of Minnesota community, its students, its faculty, its staff, its alumni, and its good name. Dr. Rice's conduct and the conduct of other high Bush administration officials has resulted in no accountability -- no criminal accountability, no civil accountability, no official commission of inquiry -- in large part due to the current administration. Not only were there possible war crimes committed with no accountability, but they occurred in conjunction with the first public proclamation by a Geneva Conventions signatory nation engaged in a war saying the Conventions did not apply to them. The University's invitation will be seen as condoning not only the conduct, but also the lack of accountability and the attitude that the United States is above the law. that the rules don't apply to us."

Read about this week's protest here.

The Persuasions say: Get on Board. Make a Call.

The train is running.  Please join our call-in campaign to stop research abuse at the U.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"We hope, however, that you do not employ the interrogation techniques she so willingly approved."

SDS warns the campus police of the presence of a dangerous criminal on campus.

"After 12 years of documenting human rights issues I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity."

"Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies. Africans with mental illness in regions in crisis are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons."  Have a look at Robin Hammond's documentary photographs: "Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Forgotten History of the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry: From Felony Conviction to FDA Disqualification

The recent research scandals out of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry may be alarming, but they are not new.  Back in the 1990s, when the university was working its way towards a crippling probation by the National Institutes of Health (for yet another episode of misconduct, this time in the Department of Surgery), the Department of Psychiatry hosted two spectacular cases of research wrongdoing, both of which resulted in faculty members being disqualified from conducting research by the FDA.

The first was the case of Dr. Barry Garfinkel, the head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Garfinkel was the principal investigator for a $250,000 Ciba-Geigy study of Anafranil, an antidepressant, to determine if the drug was effective for obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents. Unfortunately, Garfinkel was not the most scrupulous researcher.  According to newspaper reports, Garfinkel falsified data, submitted forms for psychiatric evaluations that didn’t actually take place, and instructed his research assistant to give therapy to subjects even though she had no medical training.  For this Garfinkel wound up in federal court, where he was sentenced to six months in federal prison, six months of home detention, 400 hours of community service, and was fined $214,000.

Sound familiar?  It gets better.  Even more impressive than Garfinkel’s fraud were the actions taken by University of Minnesota administrators to protect him.  After the whistleblower that alerted the university was fired, the Dean of the Medical School, David Brown, made a secret agreement with Garfinkel to keep the university investigation hidden for nearly four years.  The university spent nearly $180,000 in legal fees to maintain that secrecy.  When the FDA got involved, the university refused to share its findings until the FDA had them subpoenaed. The university later claimed in a press release that it had cooperated with the FDA – a claim that an FDA official told the Star Tribune he found “offensive.”  He said, “This is not what I would characterize as cooperation.”

The University of Minnesota was still under fire for covering up the Garfinkel fraud in 1993 when yet another psychiatric scandal emerged.  Dr. James Halikas, a tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, had gotten permission from the FDA to test a drug called gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, for opiate addiction.  He began by recruiting uneducated Hmong refugees who did not speak English.  The Hmong patients had become addicted to opium in Laos, where the drug is often used as a painkiller. Although they had come to the university to get methadone maintenance treatment, the patients had discovered that the methadone clinic was closed to them.  Why?  Because Halikas had decided that Southeast Asians were taking up too many spots at the clinic.  He was only admitting non-Asians.

According to the FDA, Halikas enrolled ten of those Hmong patients in his GHB study.  Although they complained bitterly that GHB didn’t work and repeatedly asked for methadone, it was not until a formal complaint was lodged by another faculty member, Dr. Sheila Specker, that an investigation was triggered.  It soon became clear that Halikas had never actually obtained informed consent from his subjects.  In fact, it is not even clear that the subjects even knew they were in a research study.  (This was not because Halikas didn’t know better; he was a member of the university’s Institutional Review Board.)  According to a later investigation by the FDA, several of the subjects were severely depressed and at risk of suicide, and should have never been enrolled in the study, even if they had given their consent.  Although Halikas told the Star Tribune that GHB is “so mild that it has been used in Europe as a children’s sedative,” it is in fact a central nervous system depressant that is sometimes used as a date rape drug.  At the time of the study it had been linked to seizures and coma.  The FDA found that Halikas had dispensed it in dangerously high doses.

According to the Star Tribune, although the university investigated the complaint about Halikas, it did not inform state licensing officials who have jurisdiction over the drug program.  Nor did it bar Halikas from conducting research.  That did not happen until 2000, when the FDA formally “disqualified” him as a clinical researcher.

By that point, of course, the current Seroquel scandals at Minnesota were getting started.  The new chair of the Department of Psychiatry, Charles Schulz, was working on the “smoke-and-mirrors” study of Seroquel that would get him into trouble later, when internal AstraZeneca documents were unsealed in litigation.  And a within another few years, his colleague, Stephen Olson, was recruiting subjects into the CAFÉ study of Seroquel, which resulted in a grisly death for at least one subject, Dan Markingson.

Misconduct this egregious happens only because university officials make it possible.  Over a twenty year period, University of Minnesota administrators have done their best to protect the faculty members at fault, punish the whistleblowers, and above all, keep the wrongdoing secret.  And unless that changes, Minnesotans can look forward to more fraud, more deception, and more injuries and deaths.

Note: This was originally posted on Mad in America on December 12, 2012.  As we continue our call-in campaign and other actions in coming weeks, I will be reposting other older posts, as a reminder of all the unanswered questions surrounding the Markingson case.

ADHD is so 1996. You have "sluggish cognitive tempo" disorder

Yes, we are watching a new psychiatric disorder evolve in real time: "sluggish cognitive tempo," characterized by people who are "daydreamy, mentally foggy, easily confused, and staring frequently." 

According to Alan Schwarz in the New York Times:

"Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it."

"The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness, with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence 'seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.' The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.’s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo 'has become the new attention disorder.'”

Friday, April 11, 2014

All you got to do is pick up the telephone (and dial 625-6300)

It's not too late.  Join our call-in campaign to force an investigation of psychiatric research abuse at the U.  Read about it here.

Where all the nurses are “supportive of research” and “all the patients are reviewed for possible research candidacy”

In the business of clinical trials, the most valuable commodities are the research subjects.  Filling clinical trials is hard, and filling them quickly is even harder. That’s why in 2000 a clinical investigator told the HHS Office of the Inspector General that research sponsors were looking for three things from research sites: “No. 1—rapid enrollment.  No. 2 — rapid enrollment.  No. 3 — rapid enrollment.”

Back in the early 2000s, the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry was having so much trouble getting research subjects that Quintiles, a Contract Research Organization, had put it on probation.  Perhaps the department’s difficulty convincing subjects to sign up for trials should not have been a surprise, given its alarming history of research scandals.  Yet by December 2003, the Department had managed a 180-degree turn.  In fact, it had become so successful in getting subjects into trials that Quintiles had profiled it in a CAFÉ study webcast.  How did the Department manage to become such an aggressively successful recruiting site?

A hint emerges in this document from the lawsuit against the University of Minnesota brought by Mary Weiss over the suicide of her son, Dan Markingson. The document, dated April 14, 2003, is labeled “CAFÉ Study Coordinator Teleconference,” and it mentions a number of strategies for recruiting subjects.

First, the document references a discussion of “ways to utilize subjects for multiple studies.”  The phrase “multiple studies” should set off a red flag. Enrolling severely mentally ill subjects in multiple industry-funded studies was exactly the strategy of former University of Minnesota psychiatrist Faruk Abuzzahab, who was eventually found to be responsible for the deaths and injuries of 46 patients. 

Second, the document discusses a “newly-added 16 bed psychosis specialty unit” where all nurses and staff are “supportive of research” and “all patients are reviewed for possible research candidacy.”  Every patient?  Remember, patients with psychotic illnesses are among the most vulnerable patients in the hospital. Because of their thought disorders, they are often unable to understand and appreciate the risks of research.  Yet according to this document, every patient on the psychosis unit is evaluated for his or her suitability for research studies — and perhaps even multiple studies.  How exactly do the Minnesota psychiatrists accomplish this?

Apparently one way is to have research staff “attend morning report before inpatient rounds take place,” in order to “identify any possible subjects who might be eligible for studies.” Yet again, this statement should raise alarm bells. Morning report is a time for discussing the care of patients, where private medical information is revealed.  Why should research staff working for pharmaceutical companies and Contract Research Organizations be given privileged access to the private health information of hospitalized patients?  Of course, privacy violations were at the heart of Mike Howard’s complaint about Stephen Olson to the Board of Regents, which was dismissed by the General Counsel.

This is an alarming document, but even more alarming is the fact that nobody at the University of Minnesota is willing to look into the issues it raises – not the Board of Regents, not the Research Subject Advocate, not the Research Integrity Officer, and not the Research Ethics Consultation Service.  At the very least someone should be asking the question: how do we know that the suicide of Dan Markingson in the CAFÉ study was an isolated case?


Note: This was originally posted on January 17, 2013.  As we continue our call-in campaign and other actions in coming weeks, I will be reposting other older posts, as a reminder of all the unanswered questions surrounding the Markingson case.

Should Congress hold hearings on the NCAA?

Norman Ornstein writes in The Atlantic:

"A couple of weeks ago, the usually astute Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote disdainfully of the move toward a union, saying athletes are "highly privileged scholarship winners who get a lot of valuable stuff for free. This includes first-rate training in the habits of high achievement, cool gear, unlimited academic tutoring for gratis, and world-class medical care that no one else has access to." Apparently it also includes starvation diets for poor kids who come to college without any money. And the "unlimited academic tutoring" apparently led to the 8 percent graduation rate for these privileged athletes at UConn, which actually got the program suspended a year ago because the rate was so abysmal, and led no doubt to wonderful academic preparation for the "one and out" freshman class who have made many millions of dollars for Kentucky coach John Calipari. Not to mention the pathetic one-paragraph 'research paper' written by a University of North Carolina athlete that was all over Twitter a few weeks ago."

And then:
"Calling on Congress: It is time for probing hearings into corruption at the NCAA and the serious misuse of college athletics and college athletes by major educational institutions for their own profit. Haul up Mark Emmert, a passel of college presidents and athletic directors, Shabazz Napier and other current and former athletes who have been exploited by the system, and let the chips fall where they may."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Make that urgent call!

Thanks for the terrific initial response to our call-in campaign to Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson and Governor Mark Dayton. If we are ever going to get action on psychiatric research abuse at the U, we need to ramp up the public pressure.  We will be rolling out Phase 2 of the campaign next week.

In the meantime: please make a call!  As much as we appreciate the emails and the retweets, what we really need are phone calls to Beeson and Dayton.  It does not take long.  And if you are so inclined, please tell us how the call went on the "Investigate the Death of Dan Markingson" website.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Markingson Case Supporters: We Need Your Help

In early December, a petition signed by nearly 3,500 people was delivered to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, calling for an investigation of the death of Dan Markingson in a University of Minnesota psychiatric research study.  That same week, the Faculty Senate at the university also overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an investigation.
Yet four months later, we still have seen no results.  The president of the university, Eric Kaler, has indicated publicly that any review he commissions will not include an investigation of Dan Markingson’s death.  Governor Dayton has not even acknowledged our petition. 

In the meantime, evidence is accumulating that Dan Markingson was not the only patient who died or was seriously injured in psychiatric research studies at the university.  Two investigative news reports (here and here) have appeared with evidence of misconduct involving other patients.  A confidential letter has emerged indicating that the Institutional Review Board was aware of ethical problems with psychiatric research at the University in 2009, and that it was concerned enough to request an external investigation.  And for over six months, the university has stonewalled our open records requests for reports of deaths and serious injuries in psychiatric research studies.  

So we need your help.  We are organizing a series of actions beginning with a call-in campaign to Governor Mark Dayton and University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chairman Richard Beeson.  We are asking you to make a phone call to the offices of Dayton and Beeson as soon as possible and leave a message asking for action.   Here are phone numbers (and if you need it, a suggested script for your call.)

Please make your voice heard.  And let us know that you called by leaving a comment at


Carl Elliott


Richard Beeson
Office of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents
Phone: 612 625-6300
Suggested script:

My name is ___ and I am calling to leave a message for Board of Regents Regent Chair Richard Beeson.

I am alarmed by the ongoing news about research abuses against mentally ill patients in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry.  I am especially disturbed by the misleading and deceptive statements issued by University of Minnesota officials, including the claims that these research abuses have already been investigated. 

I am calling to ask the Board of Regents to take action to answer two questions.

1) How many research subjects have died or been seriously injured in psychiatric research studies at the university since the current Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles Schulz, was appointed in 1999?

2) Why is President Eric Kaler refusing to investigate the suicide of Dan Markingson?

The Board of Regents has an obligation to make this information publicly available.  Please contact me at the following number:


Gov. Mark Dayton
Phone: 651-201-3437
Toll free: 800-657-3717
Suggested script:

My name is ___ and I am calling to leave a message for Gov. Mark Dayton.

I am alarmed by the ongoing news about research abuses against mentally ill patients in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry. I am especially disturbed by the refusal of President Eric Kaler to investigate the suicide of Dan Markingson, despite a Faculty Senate resolution calling for an investigation.  I believe it is the responsibility of Governor Dayton to ensure the protection of vulnerable, mentally ill patients at a state university.

I am asking Governor Dayton to respond to the petition calling for an investigation of the death of Dan Markingson that was delivered to him four months ago.  In addition, Governor Dayton should demand that the University of Minnesota make publicly available the number research subjects that have died or been seriously injured in psychiatric research studies since the current Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles Schulz, was appointed in 1999.

Please contact me at the following number: