Over the past several years I have spoken about the case of Dan Markingson at medical schools, bioethics conferences and academic centers all over the world. Without exception, audience members are stunned and horrified. They are stunned at the way Dan was coerced into the clinical trial, by the obvious financial conflicts of interest, and by the failure of the researchers to pay any attention to warnings by Dan’s mother that Dan might kill himself. Perhaps most of all, they are stunned by the university’s response to Dan’s death: stonewalling, evasion, and legal tactics aimed at bullying Dan’s mother and intimidating critics. Often the first question I get is, “What can I do to help?” Until recently, I have not had a good answer for that question. But today I do.
Mike Howard and Mary Weiss, Dan’s mother, have started a petition on Change.org. They are asking Governor Mark Dayton to appoint an independent panel of experts to investigate possible misconduct in psychiatric research at the University of Minnesota. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have signed the petition, and I urge you to sign it as well. If you would like to know more about the case before signing on, have a look at my article in Mother Jones, the referenced summary I have posted online, or any of a number of articles and commentaries, including those by Judy Stone, Alice Dreger, Andy Mannix, William Heisel,or Paul Tosto and Jeremy Olson. You can read the entire petition at this link, but let me also include the closing statement by Mary Weiss.
Dan and I were very close. I have experienced more anguish than I thought humanly possible since Dan’s death. He had dreams, like everyone. He had a talent for creative writing, and he had hoped one day to write for The New Yorker magazine. Unfortunately, his unfinished life robbed him of this dream. In fact, his short time on earth took many dreams from him, and also from me. The things he wished for, I wanted him to realize. Please demand an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dan’s death, and help ensure no other family ever suffers such a loss from unregulated and improperly supervised clinical trials. Please sign the petition below. Help us find justice, not vengeance.
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