Saturday, September 26, 2015

U to psychiatric patient under 72-hour hold: "You were not pressured or coerced to participate in the study"

That's what the University of Minnesota said to Robert Huber on May 6, 2015, despite the fact that Mr. Huber had been recruited into a study of an unapproved antipsychotic drug while confined to a locked unit under a 72-hour hold.  That's right. No pressure, no coercion.

Forget about the locked doors, hospital security, and the legal prohibition on leaving the unit. Pay no attention to the fact that Mr. Huber's attending physician was also the principal investigator for the study. Nope, just ignore all that. Mr. Huber's consent to the study was completely voluntary.

So why, now, has the University of Minnesota decided to prohibit research recruitment of psychiatric patients confined under a 72-hour hold?  I mean, if there was absolutely nothing wrong with recruiting Robert Huber, why would the university feel obliged to change its policy?

Clearly, it was wrong for Stephen Olson to have recruited Robert Huber into the bifeprunox study while he was under a 72-hour hold.  And clearly, it was also wrong for the University of Minnesota to have sanctioned this kind of recruitment. I'm glad the U is finally changing its policies. But the fact is, none of this would have happened if Robert Huber had not had the courage to speak out about his treatment.

He deserves an apology.

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