Man with Schizophrenia Commits Suicide after Being Enlisted in University Drug Trial

by Vins

Dan Markingson, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was placed into a financially motivated study with the University of Minnesota to test and compare the effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs—even though people, particularly Markingson’s mother, protested against the trials. Six months after the start of the trial in 2004, Dan Markingson committed suicide. This case, however, was ignored and pushed back with no further investigation. It wasn’t until last month that an external review was conducted, finding that “the school’s human research program was strong in some areas but weak in others, including a lack of expertise on the medical research board that evaluates projects,” which actually includes Dan Markingson’s case. Rumors started to leak that Dan Markingson was, in fact, forced into the trials by the University even though Dr. Stephen Olson, who served as Markingson’s psychiatrist, continually claimed that other treatment options were available besides the drug being tested. Either way, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has promised lawmakers that the University shall create a “team to carry out the recommendations in that previous review, which include adding members to that board and spending more money on training. The University will also appoint a community oversight board to make sure the school’s human subject practices meet best standards.”

Source: Kia Farhang, “Audit: Serious ethical issues in drug trial suicide,” AP, March 19, 2015, https://kiafarhang.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/audit-serious-ethical-issues-in-drug-trial-suicide/.

Student Researcher: Cheyenne Dong (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)