KMSP News: Another victim of psychiatric research abuse at the University of Minnesota

On Monday evening, KMSP News aired a stunning report of yet another mentally ill man whose harrowing story mirrors that of Dan Markingson. 

 The man, identified as Robert, was apparently pressured into a pharmaceutical industry study of an unapproved antipsychotic drug.  “I was incompetent and didn’t know what I was doing,” he told the KMSP reporter, Jeff Baillon.  “Then, they say you have a giant medical bill and if you do the research, you won’t have this giant medical bill.”

He says he was told the unapproved drug was safe, yet the FDA soon rejected the drug, asking the sponsor to look into the death of a research subject who had died of liver failure shortly after taking the drug.  Several months later, the sponsor halted all studies.

Robert said the side-effects of the drug were so severe he considered suicide.  He went to the Fairview emergency room three times, once by ambulance, yet the researcher in charge of the study dismissed his symptoms as “psychosomatic.” 

You can read the story here:


Successful Action at the Board of Regents meeting last Friday

Friday’s vigil and action at the Board of Regents’ meeting was a great success! The credit goes to an extraordinary University of Minnesota medical student, Eden Almasude, who planned and led the demonstration; her fellow medical students with Physicians for Human Rights; and the gutsy members of Students for a Democratic Society.

Here’s the way it played out. After a vigil outside the McNamara Alumni Center, a group of four students wearing white coats carried a black coffin to the door of the Board of Regents conference room, where they were confronted by security guards. Soon afterwards, several dozen demonstrators filed quietly to the front of the conference room, where each of us presented a single flower to Board of Regents Chairman Richard Beeson. Beeson responded by shouting into the microphone and threatening to have the room cleared. It was very satisfying.

Later in the public meeting, Leigh Turner, a professor in the Center for Bioethics, delivered a blistering speech to the Regents about their baffling refusal to address mounting evidence of research abuse and misconduct in the Department of Psychiatry. He was followed by two SDS members, Johnathon Walker and Chris Getowicz. All of them were shouted down by Chairman Beeson as their time at the podium expired.

You can see photos, video and speeches on the Facebook page for “Community Alliance for Ethics in Minnesota Psychiatry.”

For those of you who could not be there: our call-in campaign to the Regents and Governor Mark Dayton is still ongoing. Please voice your support for the cause by sending an email message to Brian Steeves, Executive Director of the Board of Regents, and cc-ing the email to Governor Mark Dayton. We have 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?

Send the email to:
Brian Steeves:

Then go to this website and send it to Mark Dayton.

Thanks again for all of your support. We do appreciate it very much.

Carl Elliott

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Vigil for Dan Markingson to Protest Psychiatric Research Abuse

Our next action in support of an independent investigation into psychiatric research abuse at the University of Minnesota will be a vigil at noon on May 9, 2014, in front of the McNamara Alumni Center. The Board of Regents will be meeting inside. Please plan to come with signs, candles, flowers or anything else that would show your support for victims of research abuse or misconduct in the Department of Psychiatry.

The previous day, May 8, will mark the 10-year anniversary of Dan’s death in the CAFE study.

Please share notices of the vigil as widely as possible. We have created a Facebook event page. If you are on Facebook, please consider inviting friends and sharing the event on your timeline.

Hold the date: Friday May 9, for our next Dan Markingson action

We will be organizing our next action on the Markingson case around the University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting on Friday, May 9, during the lunch hour. I will post more on the details soon.

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!

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.