Friday, February 8, 2013

A make-believe investigation at the University of Minnesota

From the day that questions first began emerging about the suicide of Dan Markingson, the University of Minnesota’s General Counsel, Mark Rotenberg, has insisted that the university has already investigated the case. Most recently, in a public statement to City Pages, Rotenberg claimed that the university's Institutional Review Board (among other bodies) investigated the case and found no fault with the university, no fault with the researchers, and no “causal link between the CAFE trial and the death of Mr. Markingson." Local reporters have simply taken Rotenberg’s claim at face value, yet I have never been able to find any evidence that the Institutional Review Board did in fact investigate.

If you look at a deposition in the lawsuit brought against the university, you will see testimony that directly contradicts Rotenberg’s account. According to Richard Bianco, the official then responsible for overseeing research subject protection at the university, neither the IRB nor any other university body has investigated Markingson’s death.

What follows is an exchange between Bianco and Chris Barden, an attorney representing Mary Weiss.  (It begins on page 41 of the deposition.)

Q: Has the IRB done any investigation into the death of Dan Markingson?

A: Not a formal investigation, no.

Q: Has the university done any investigation into the death of Dan Markingson?

A: No.

And later:

Q: To the best of your knowledge, did anyone at the IRB, at the University of Minnesota, or anyone under your office investigate this case, actually look at the records and see the court documents that I’m describing, and if so, could you give me the name of that person?

A: Not to my knowledge.

Q: Nobody did that.

A: No.

Both of these accounts cannot be correct.  One University of Minnesota official is not telling the truth.  My guess is that no investigation was done.  But if Rotenberg is right and the university did investigate, why has that investigation never been made public?

1 comment:

  1. The Non-Investigation by the IRB or some other University body is similar to the non-clinical studies that Drs. Schulz and Olson have or have-not done, maybe they did them, maybe-not. Maybe there were actual patients enrolled, maybe-not. Maybe FDA 1572 documents were filed, maybe they weren't. Maybe someday the U will tell all the truth, probably not.