Bioethicists call for probe of U of M patient's suicideby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Eight University of Minnesota bioethicists are asking the Board of Regents to re-examine the suicide case of a drug trial participant in 2004.
Dan Markingson participated in a psychiatric research study sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, and killed himself during the study phase.
The bioethicists want an independent panel to look into why Markingson was recruited as a test subject, despite having numerous mental health issues that should have disqualified him from the drug trial.
Dr. Carl Elliot, a professor at the Center for Bioethics, co-signed the letter.
"It's one of the worst cases that I've ever come across. And I think that if an impartial expert panel of scholars who work on research ethics were to look at it, I think that there's a very good chance that they would come to the same conclusion," Elliot said.
In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the university and the drug company, AstraZeneca. But Elliot says the review didn't deal with conflict-of-interest issues and financial incentives at the university.
In a statement released Monday in response, the University said it has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
"The Markingson case and the role of our physician researchers has been reviewed by Federal, State, and academic bodies over the last five years, including the FDA, the Hennepin County District Court, the Board of Medical Practice and Minnesota Attorney General's office, and the University and its IRB. None found fault with the University, none found fault with the involved faculty, and none found any causal link between the Cafe trial and the unfortunate death of Dan Markingson."
The university's Board of Regents meets Thursday and Friday, but the professors' request isn't on the agenda.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)