Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The petition to investigate: comments from the first 200 signatories

The petition to have the University of Minnesota investigated for possible research misconduct has reached 200 signatures in its first day.  Many of the most moving comments on the petition have come from relatives of Dan Markingson, or from the families of others who have suffered in similar ways.  I am not sure whether those people would approve of my quoting them here, so I won't do that.  What I would like to do, however, is re-post some comments by academics who specialize in bioethics, health law or similar fields.  These are people who would typically teach and write about issues related to ethics and clinical research.  I will post more comments as they come in.

 "I'm a University of Minnesota alum and I'm outraged by the school's response to this scandal. UMN researchers effectively forced a mentally ill and dangerous young man into a clinical trial -- over his mother's objections -- and he then killed himself, just as his mother had warned. There is substantial evidence of multiple forms of misconduct, some of which are felonies. The trial's coordinator has been censured. The Minnesota legislature passed a law to avoid some of these exploitative practices in the future. Yet when called upon to investigate the conduct of its own employees, the University's response amounts to 'Why would we do that? We've already gotten away with this!'"

"To call this merely shameful would be wholly inadequate. There must be a thorough and independent investigation of the University's treatment of Dan Markingson, its conduct in related litigation, and its attempts to intimidate critics into silence. If, as it appears, University employees committed criminal acts, they should be prosecuted. And if the University's counsel withheld documents and/or knowingly produced altered or faked documents in litigation, those attorneys should be disbarred."
-- Matt Lamkin, Stanford University

"This tragedy is important to everyone who cares about the safety and well-being of research subjects."
 -- Nancy King, Wake Forest University
"I am a professional bioethicist, and to me the attitude of the university to bend any rule to forestall an investigation is appalling."
-- Christian Munthe, University of Göteborg (Sweden)

"I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota and want to be proud of my school, but following this case has made me deeply ashamed. Minnesota owes much more to Mary Weiss than this investigation, but for now, it's the least we can do."
-- Emily Beitiks, San Francisco State University

"Medical research needs oversight to protect it from the corruption of business interests."
-- Lochlan Jain, Stanford University

"There are clear grounds for an investigation here. Conducting an independent investigation is both prudent and moral."
-- Mike King, University of Otago (New Zealand)

"As a philosopher, bioethicist, and scholar I continue to be saddened by the failure to have this situation appropriately investigated. Clearly there is wrongdoing occuring here. The sources of it need to be determined and steps taken to ensure the problems do not occur again."
-- Rory Kraft, York College

"Protecting research subjects is an ongoing social problem. This case deserves investigation."
-- Leonore Tiefer, New York University

"The protection of research participants is an issue that concerns everyone."
-- Francoise Baylis, Dalhousie University (Canada)

"Research subjects must be protected!" 
-- Adriane Fugh-Berman, Georgetown University

"It is critical to maintain the integrity of clinical trials. This case needs to be thoroughly investigated in order to insure that all precautions and protections were in place for the protection of research subject."
-- Raymond DeVries, University of Michigan

"As an American academic residing and teaching ethics in Israel, I am concerned about the possibility of such serious miscounduct and suspected cover-up in a respected American university, especially one supported by the state!"
-- Noam Zohar, Bar-Ilan University (Israel)

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