Thursday, June 26, 2014

What the Legislative Auditor must do

On June 16, the Legislative Auditor, James Nobles, announced that his office would be investigating possible psychiatric research misconduct at the University of Minnesota.  This is welcome news.  Nobles has been doing this job for over thirty years, and during that time he has accumulated a tremendous amount of respect.  The involvement of his office represents a  genuinely significant step forward.

Of course, many of us still have concerns. One is about the time frame of the review.  The initial announcement indicated that the Nobles review would cover deaths and injuries over the past decade. That does not go back far enough.  At a minimum, a credible review will need to include all studies conducted by Charles Schulz and Stephen Olson.  For example, the CAFE study began in 2002, and the CATIE study began in 2000.  Charles Schulz, the current chair of the Department of Psychiatry, has been at the University of Minnesota since 1999.

Another concern is with the type of review that needs to be conducted.  It will not be enough to examine records.  Records can be destroyed, manipulated and hidden. A credible review will need to involve extensive interviews with research subjects and their families, whose experiences are often at odds with what is recorded in their medical files.

Which brings up a third concern.  For reasons that are unclear, many former subjects and their families who have contacted me seem unable to speak about their experiences publicly, or even privately.  Some appear to be afraid of punishment, retaliation or legal sanctions of some sort.  I do not know if these families would be willing to speak to the Legislative Auditor, but unless they do, I cannot see any real clarity coming out of this review.  So it will be necessary for these subjects and their families to be given some assurances of protection.

3 comments:

  1. I think the old saying that statistics can prove anything but figures cannot lie came about as a result of psychiatric research practices at the U-MN. The good old boys like Chuck Schulz and Steve Olson are masters at manipulating data and statistics to say whatever they're paid to say, and the hell with actual human subject figures that might show horrible drug effects, high dropout rates from studies, deaths, permanent disabilities...those are just labeled under ...lost to follow up. Actually, either Schulz or Olson can't count to 21 unless they are naked, or they have devised a system of clinical trial corruption that does not hold them accountable...but just lines their bank account.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am a sister of one of the subjects i will talk on my brothers behalf! Thankyou for fighting these patients rights!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can contact me at this address

    http://www.bioethics.umn.edu/bio/bioethics-grad-prog-fac/bruce-elliott

    ReplyDelete