Mary Weiss responds to VP Mulcahy

by Mary Weiss - Daily reader

I am Mary Weiss, mother of Dan Markingson, who died while in a University of Minnesota clinical drug study. In a Feb. 24 letter to the editor published in the Minnesota Daily, âÄúThe Markingson case deserves better from the Daily,âÄù R. Timothy Mulcahy, vice president for research at the University, states, among other things, that the University did not profit from the study in which Dan died.
So, this study was revenue neutral? Does the University not profit from their clinical drug research? Who would possibly believe this?
Mulcahy states non-University psychiatrists found no wrongdoing. Of course they found no wrongdoing: These psychiatrists were paid to find no wrongdoing by virtue of the fact that they were âÄúexpert witnessesâÄù for the University. Other medial professionals have since disagreed with this assessment.
Dr. Harrison G. Pope, Jr., professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said about the study, âÄúThere is virtually no evidence that this vulnerable, severely psychotic and mentally incompetent patient was capable of understanding the study to which he was consenting.âÄù
Or take the statement of James I. Hudson, also a professor of psychiatry at Harvard, who summed up his professional opinion of the doctor who conducted the study, saying, âÄúDr. [Stephen] OlsonâÄôs errors, omissions, improper acts and failures were to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, a substantial contributing factor and a proximate cause of Mr. MarkingsonâÄôs death.âÄù
Dr. Keith A. Horton, licensed psychiatrist in the state of Minnesota, said in his expert testimony, âÄúIt is my opinion that this case represents a violation of biomedical standards upon which there is a widespread consensus for informed consent and human subjectsâÄô protection.âÄù
Mulcahy states also in his article, âÄúThe University is steadfast in its commitment to the protection of all research subjects.âÄù
If this had been the case, âÄúDanâÄôs LawâÄù âÄî which was passed unanimously in both the Minnesota House and Senate in 2009 âÄî would have been entirely unnecessary.
This law now prevents anyone on a stay of civil commitment from entering a psychiatric clinical drug study and also prohibits any doctor from putting his or her own patients into his or her own clinical drug study.
Also, Mulcahy states that âÄúproper care was providedâÄù to Dan. I donâÄôt think many people would consider it âÄúproper careâÄù when on April 9, 2004, Easter Sunday âÄî less than a month before he died âÄî Dan was psychotic, and I, his distraught mother, left voice messages for Olson and also Jeanne Kenney, the studyâÄôs coordinator.
I said, âÄúDo we have to wait for him to kill himself or someone else before anyone does anything?âÄù thinking for sure someone would call me  back in the morning and re-hospitalize Dan.
Unbelievably, no one responded âÄî though Kenney did write my message verbatim in her study file. Evidently, the outcome of the study was more important than making a patient well or keeping him alive.
Also, Mulcahy states that no laws were violated by the University. In fact, the University was given immunity by a Hennepin County judge who cited the Minnesota law which states âÄú[Minnesota] and its employees are not liable for âĦ a loss caused by the performance or failure to perform a discretionary duty.âÄù
Horton also said, âÄúIt is my opinion that no university or medical center should tolerate or condone the improper, coercive, unethical practices documented in the case of Dan Markingson. Correction measures should be instituted to prevent future injuries to vulnerable patients.âÄù
But no correction measures have been taken. And the University still tolerates and condones improper, coercive, unethical practices.
What is it going to take for them to change? I really donâÄôt know. Hopefully not the death of another parentâÄôs precious child.