Markingson Case Supporters: Please Join Our Call-In Campaign

Carl Elliott, MD, PhD
3
67

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 overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an investigation of Markingson’s death.  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 May of this year, we will reach the 10-year anniversary of Markingson’s suicide.  We will also reach the five-year anniversary of the first public reports of the disturbing circumstances surrounding Markingson’s death: the coercion, the corruption, and perhaps worst of all, the appalling clinical care.   The Markingson case has attracted international attention in publications such as the British Medical Journal, The Medical Journal of Australia, Nature, and the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, not to mention many posts on this blog (see, for instance, here, here, and here).  Yet on the University of Minnesota campus, most students and faculty members know little if anything about the case. 

Over the past six months evidence has accumulated 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 have appeared with evidence of misconduct involving other patients (see here and here.)  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 are asking for 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 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 www.danmarkingson.com.

* * * * *

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:

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have read White Coat, Black Hat and followed your postings on your tireless rigourous investigation on the death of young Dan Markingson with horror and with empathy for both his mother and you. Ten years ago my son, a 2nd year student at SFU, was aggressively treated, seemingly recruited, by an EPI team in Vancouver, BC for “anxiety.” Without informing his family, EPI staff accompanied him to the registrar’s office and “helped him” withdraw from his classes. Immediately recruited to enter Detwiler Clinic at UBC, his voluntary status was changed to involuntary when he regretted “his” decision and asked to leave. He was given Quetiapine/Seroquel, as was every other person on the ward, though others were there to be treated for a variety of “symptoms” (I asked everyone). It looked very much like research to me, but my son was never asked, not did he consent to participate in a research study. When effects of the drug altered his perception and we requested he be taken off the drug, the leading psy doc stood up, raised his voice threatening us that he would no longer treat our son if we didn’t cooperate with the Seroquel treatment and left the room. The next day the social worker on the team called to tell me that if our son did not take Quetiapine/Seroquel, he would “never get well.” He was given ECT instead and has become increasing disfunctional with each new forced treatment. In addition to horrible unacknowledged effects of treatment (weight gain, incontinence, impotenct, disabling fatigue, shaking hands, using cigaretts, coffee and, in the last year, street drugs to alleviate feelings of agitation from the drugs), 3 times he has gone through life-threatening forced withdrawal due to negligence or bad reactions to meds on which he’s been forced. One of the other students treated at the clinic with him ten years ago is dead. I’m surprised my son is still alive. I’m afraid no one will investigate what has happened to him. He was a successful student at the time who has been disabled by treatment. No one investigated the death of his friend, a young woman, another brilliant student, basketball player and competitive swimmer, also rendered disabled. Her parents thanked the MH team at her memorial service. She told us her parents and doctor used treatment to control her “innappropriate behaviour” – smoking pot – since she was 14. Her best friend said she jumped off the Lyon’s Gate Bridge because she couldn’t stand the effects of the latest drugs she was forced to take by her MH team. Nothing we say is acknowledged; all is treated with disdain.