The behavior of the University of Minnesota keeps sinking to new lows. In the case of Dan Markingson, they recruited a mentally ill young man into an experimental pharmaceutical treatment, his condition worsened, and he committed suicide. He was a person who needed help, not to be roped into the position of a guinea pig, but you know there is big money behind clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies (but not enough, apparently, to cover adequate monitoring and care for test subjects).
His medical record shows extreme anxiety and paranoia, a history of head injuries and lengthy battle with alcoholism. It is highly inappropriate for him to be put in the media spotlight as a spokesperson for clinical trial safety.
That’s just…I was temporarily speechless.
So a person with a history of alcoholism is not appropriate as an example of poor clinical trial safety, but he was just fine for a test of experimental drugs?
Can we now expect the university to recruit more mentally ill people as experimental subjects, since if they’re harmed by the experiment, their prior history makes them inappropriate victims who can’t complain?
Isn’t the purpose of informed consent rules and ethical guidelines specifically to protect those who are most vulnerable to exploitation? That statement says the reverse: that those who are most vulnerable have the least opportunity for redress.
I may have to stop wasting my time with zebrafish. Apparently, I can do all kinds of horrible experiments on humans, as long as they’re fearful, have a history of substance abuse, and have been banged about a bit. It’s a bit like those stores that sell damaged goods — canned food with slight dents, or clothes that have small stains — for dirt cheap. Damaged people, too, apparently have far less worth.