U of Minnesota Faculty Senate Vote To Review Dan Markingson’s Death

In 2004, 26-year-old Dan Markingson committed suicide.  Since then, numerous concerns have been expressed about the events that led up to his death.  In particular, it has been claimed that he was coerced into the CAFE study, and that he was too delusional to understand what was involved.  It has also been reported widely that his mother, Mary Weiss, saw his condition deteriorate while he was taking the study drug – Seroquel (quetiapine) – and that she made numerous unsuccessful requests to the researchers to have him removed from the study.

Carl Elliott, PhD, Bioethics Professor at the university, has been calling, repeatedly, for an independent inquiry on this matter.  His requests have been consistently resisted by the psychiatrists who conducted the study as well as the university administration, but yesterday, the University Faculty Senate voted 67-23 to reopen the matter and conduct an independent inquiry.

In my view, there are three immediate lessons to be learned:

1.  Never give up.  Carl Elliott has been hammering away at this door for years.

2.  Individuals can make a difference.  I’m sure there were times when Carl felt that he was getting nowhere, that pharma/psychiatry’s forces were too strong, and that he was just one voice crying in the wilderness.  Each of us is just one voice, but collectively we are having an impact.

3.  Psychiatry at its core is rotten.  It can’t abide scrutiny, and will continue to resist attempts to expose its spurious and destructive practices.  There has been no change of heart in psychiatry.  They continue to expand their “diagnostic” net and to prescribe more dangerous drugs to more people.  They avail of every opportunity to promote their stigmatizing and disempowering agenda.  Psychiatry has no internal control mechanism that might limit this predatory, self-serving expansion. There are a few dissenting voices within psychiatry, and they are to be commended, but there is no groundswell of protest from the APA membership.  Psychiatry will not stop destroying lives until it is stopped by outside forces.

That is why it is so important that we keep writing – keep passing the word.  There have been thousands and thousands of Dan Markingsons.  And there will be thousands more.

 

  • Francesca Allan

    I retain a (faint) hope that this tragedy being brought to light will shift the public’s consciousness. I am so glad Carl Elliott never gave up. Whatever comes of this investigation, I sure hope that Dan Markingson’s poor mother finds some peace. Psychiatric research, together with the entire field of this so-called medical specialty, is way, way, way, way out of control. Bringing this kind of horror to the public’s attention can only help.

  • Cindy Carlson

    Thank you for this great piece. Professor Elliott has been the voice of the unheard for quite some time, and deserves recognition for his stamina and persistence.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Francesca,

    I agree.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Cindy,

    Thanks for your encouragement. If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will convey your thoughts to Carl at his blog, Fear and Loathing in Bioethics

    Best wishes.

  • Nanu Grewal

    Hi Phil,
    Just a very quick question about the CAFE study. I quickly read the Elliot blog entry which states that CAFE was a “double-blinded trial comparing the efficacy of three new antipsychotics”.
    It appears that there was no head-to-head with a control group taking a placebo pill. Nor was there a control group featuring “old” types of “antipsychotic” If that was the case then it is very poor study. If you are just looking at 3 “new” subtypes of a “new” class – then what on earth can you hope to show from the data. (I acknowledge that I only skimmed the article and could be wrong about this)

  • Phil_Hickey

    Nanu,

    I started writing a “quick” reply, but soon discovered that the subject matter is too complex. My quick reply turned into an article. I hope to have it posted on Wednesday or Thursday morning.

    Best wishes.

  • mjhoward

    Nanu- There was no ‘placebo’ used nor a control group given an ‘typical’ neuroleptic in the CAFE’ study. Three ‘atypicals’ were used only. Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Risperdal. And of course as the sponsoring pharma company- AstraZeneca okay’d the dosage of Seroquel up to 800 mg, and the other two competitors much less. And you were considered a study success if you stayed on the medication, not whether it helped in any way.