ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

Carl Elliott, M.D. Ph.D., is Professor in the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota, where he also has joint appointments in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. A native South Carolinian, Elliott trained in medicine before earning his PhD in philosophy at Glasgow University in Scotland. He did postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, the University of Otago in New Zealand, and the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa. Prior to moving to Minnesota he taught at McGill University in Montreal. In 2003-04 he was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he led a faculty seminar on bioethics. He is the author or editor of seven books, including Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream and White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine. His articles have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Mother Jones and The New England Journal of Medicine.  He was awarded a 2011 Erikson Prize for Excellent in Mental Health Media.  In 2011-2012, he is a Network Fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Markingson Case Supporters: Please Join Our Call-In Campaign

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April 11, 2014

Patient advocates and bioethicists have launched a call-in campaign demanding action on psychiatric research abuse at the University of Minnesota.
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Categorized in: Antipsychotics, Blogs, Coercion, Featured Blogs, Research, Schizophrenia and Psychosis, Schizophrenia/Psychotic Disorders, Suicide | Tagged as: , , , , ,

Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Have You Ever Taken an Experimental Antipsychotic Called Bifeprunox?

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February 11, 2014

In 2004, a patient was given an experimental antipsychotic called bifeprunox and died of hepatorenal failure nine days later. But the sponsor apparently did not investigate the death for three years. In late 2007 the sponsor issued a safety alert and suspended all bifeprunox studies. This is where things get interesting.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Investigate the Markingson Suicide? Not So Fast, Says University President

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December 16, 2013

Responding to a letter signed by 175 scholars asking for an inquiry into the death of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota, the Faculty Senate voted to investigate clinical research at the university. But the university president says the Markingson case will not be part of the investigation. What is he trying to hide?
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. KMSP-TV Investigative Report on Psychiatric Research Abuse at the University of Minnesota

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November 27, 2013

For a scathing, 11-minute overview of the death of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota, and new allegations of coercion into psychiatric clinical trials, you can’t do much better than this excellent investigative report by Jeff Baillon.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. As Lawyers and Bureaucrats Delay,
The Body Count Rises

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September 13, 2013

It took over twenty years for the state medical board to sanction a Minnesota psychiatrist who was responsible for the deaths and injuries of 46 patients. Today, in the Markingson case, it looks as if history is repeating itself. How many patients die while bureaucrats delay?
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. The Slow Torture of Mary Weiss

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August 28, 2013

Dan Markingson was floridly psychotic and unable to give informed consent when University of Minnesota researchers coerced him into an industry-funded drug study. His mother, Mary Weiss, warned the researchers that Dan was in danger of killing himself, but she was ignored. Dan committed a violent suicide in 2004. Last week, after fighting the university and research regulators for nine years, Mary suffered a severe stroke. Her struggle for justice is in serious danger.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. How Much can a Psychiatrist Charge to Visit With a Dead Research Subject?

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May 4, 2013

At the University of Minnesota, the answer is apparently $1,446. If harmless clerical errors were to blame for oddities like this, that fact should be easy to clarify simply by looking at the relevant documents.  But if there are systematic issues with the administration of clinical trials that makes it possible to bill for a visit with a dead subject, those issues would be important for other universities and private trial sites as well. 
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. To Honor or to Investigate?

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April 15, 2013

It is not often that you will find an issue on which the editors of The Lancet and Guinea Pig Zero agree, but the need to investigate the University of Minnesota is one of them. At this point, it still not clear who will prevail: those who want to honor the Department of Psychiatry, or those who want to have it investigated.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. “They Need to be Held Accountable”

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March 16, 2013

Psychiatrists at the University of Minnesota forced a young man into a profitable study of antipsychotic drugs over the objections of his mother, who desperately warned that his condition was deteriorating and that he was in danger of killing himself. On May 8, 2004, Mary Weiss’ only son, Dan Markingson, committed suicide. A petition to the governor of Minnesota now asks for an investigation.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. And That’s the News from the Department of Psychiatry

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January 18, 2013

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.”
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. How to Get Away with Academic Misconduct at the University of Minnesota

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January 10, 2013

In early 2009, antipsychotic fraud was making headlines.  Eli Lilly had announced in January that it would plead guilty to charges that it had illegally marketed Zyprexa. The company agreed to pay a record-breaking $1.42 billion in penalties. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca …
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. The Road to Perdition

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December 7, 2012

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.
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Categorized in: Addiction, Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Blogs, Featured Blogs, Industry, Schizophrenia and Psychosis, Schizophrenia/Psychotic Disorders, Schizophrenia/Psychotic Disorders, Substance Abuse/Addiction, Suicide, Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Were Research Subjects Mistreated in the CATIE Study?

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November 21, 2012

The suicide of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota has brought notoriety to the CAFÉ study and its site investigators, Stephen Olson and Charles Schulz. But the “corrective action” recently issued by the Minnesota Board of Social Work against the CAFÉ study coordinator, Jean Kenney, has raised another disturbing question.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Fact-Checking the General Counsel in the Markingson Case

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November 19, 2012

Ever since critics began asking questions about the death of Dan Markinson in a clinical trial at the University of Minnesota, the General Counsel for the university, Mark Rotenberg, has responded with a uniform message: the case has already been investigated many times, and no wrongdoing has ever been found. That’s how Rotenberg responded to my article about the case in Mother Jones, and that’s how he responded last week to the news that the Board of Social Work had issued a “corrective action” to the study coordinator for the clinical trial in which Markingson died.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. The University of Minnesota was not Involved? Some Further Thoughts on the “Corrective Action” Against Jean Kenney in the Markingson Case

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November 15, 2012

The suicide of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota has brought notoriety to the CAFÉ study and its site investigators, Stephen Olson and Charles Schulz. But the “corrective action” recently issued by the Minnesota Board of Social Work against the CAFÉ study coordinator, Jean Kenney, has raised another disturbing question.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. “Do We Have to Wait Until He Kills Himself or Someone Else Before Anyone Else Does Anything?”

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November 14, 2012

In the “agreement for corrective action” against CAFE study coordinator Jean Kenney last week, the Board of Social Work cited Kenney’s failure to respond to “alarming voicemail messages” from family members of Dan Markingson. Presumably, the Board is referring to a message left by his mother, Mary Weiss, which warned, “Do we have to wait until he kills himself or someone else before anyone else does anything?” The failure of Kenney and Stephen Olson to take the warnings of Mary Weiss seriously has been one of the most disturbing aspects of this case. In a deposition for the lawsuit filed by Weiss, Kenney was questioned about her response. Here is an excerpt. (The initial questions come from Gale Pearson, an attorney for Mary Weiss.)

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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. “I Was Just Following Orders”: a Seroquel Suicide, a Study Coordinator, and a “Corrective Action”

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November 12, 2012

Out here in Minnesota, where the snow is gently falling, many of us are hunched over our computers, puzzling over a document just posted by the state Board of Social Work. It concerns the death of Dan Markingson (or as the document calls him, “Client #1”). Markingson, of course, was a young man under a commitment order who was coerced into a profitable Seroquel marketing study at the University of Minnesota over the objections of his mother, and whose condition spiraled downward until he committed suicide.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Watchdogs or Show Dogs?

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August 7, 2012

Beginning in the 1990s, a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies began to set up bioethics advisory boards, ostensibly to obtain guidance about controversial ethical issues. Over the years, the ties between industry and bioethics have gradually grown closer, with companies setting up endowed chairs and hiring bioethics consultants. Yet very little is known about how bioethics advisory boards work. What exactly is their purpose? Do they prevent ethical wrongdoing, or do they provide ethical cover?
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. When Medical Muckraking Fails

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August 6, 2012

Everyone knows how muckraking is supposed to work.  An investigative reporter uncovers hidden wrongdoing; the public is outraged; and the authorities move quickly on behalf of justice and righteousness.  There can be failure at any of these points, of course.  …
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. “Unfortunate experiments” in New Zealand and Minnesota

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July 20, 2012

Carl Elliott writes on the discrepancy between New Zealand’s response to a research scandal – which lead to a national debate and dramatic reforms – and the silence following clinical trial scandals in the U.S.
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Billing the Victims of Unethical Medical Research

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July 18, 2012

Imagine for a moment that you are seriously injured in a medical research study and require expensive medical care.   Imagine further that the study in which you are injured is scientifically worthless, deceptive and exploitative – sort of like the …
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Pharmed Out: An Interview with Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman

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May 24, 2012

In June, I will be returning to Washington for the annual Pharmed Out conference, a project located at Georgetown University Medical Center.  It is one of my favorite events of the year, in part because of the wide array of …
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Take a ride on the Mood Elevator

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April 30, 2012

These are not happy times for the embattled drug maker AstraZeneca.  The patent for Seroquel has expired; the company’s profits have plummeted; and its CEO, David Brennan, has just been escorted to the exit door.  It seems like a good …
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Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. When university attorneys play hardball with patients

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April 12, 2012

Everyone knows that some attorneys have a reputation for playing hardball.  In fact, many of us even seek out attorneys who play hardball. But sometimes “playing hardball” becomes something entirely more disturbing, like a deranged major league pitcher hurling a …
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Categorized in: Antipsychotics, Blogs, Psychiatric Drugs, Schizophrenia/Psychotic Disorders

Carl Elliott, M.D., Ph.D. Working the assembly line at the human experimentation factory

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April 8, 2012

If the past decade had an emblematic moment for clinical research, it was probably November 12, 2005, the day when Bloomberg Markets published its cover story, “Big Pharma’s Shameful Secret.” In that issue, Bloomberg reporters laid out the story of …
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