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"Hazards of market-driven research" – look back at ethical quagmire at University of Minnesota

On MinnPost.com, Susan Perry previews a piece in next month’s Mother Jones magazine by Dr. Carl Elliott of the University of Minnesota about the suicide of a young man who was enrolled at the time in a University of Minnesota industry-funded clinical trial of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel (quetiapine). Perry writes:

“It’s a disturbing tale (the unsuccessful efforts of (patient Dan) Markingson’s mother to get her son released from the trial and into other treatment are particularly heartbreaking) and one that, as Elliott acknowledges, was first told in the Pioneer Press by Jeremy Olson and Paul Tosto.

But Elliott’s purpose in writing the article wasn’t only to revisit the tragic details of Markingson’s story. “[T]he more I examined the medical and court records, the more I became convinced that the problem was worse than the Pioneer Press had reported,” he writes. “The danger lies not just in the particular circumstances that led to Dan’s death, but in a system of clinical research that has been thoroughly co-opted by market forces, so that many studies have become little more than covert instruments for promoting drugs. The study in which Dan died starkly illustrates the hazards of market-driven research and the inadequacy of our current oversight system to detect them.”

The story is a sorry chapter in a checkered history of U of Minnesota medical school research ethics practices.

Perry advises that “The Mother Jones article reaches subscribers’ mailboxes today. Everybody else will have to wait until it hits the newsstands on Aug. 31.”

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