Dan Markingson was a schizophrenia patient who was enlisted in a University of Minnesota trial of an experimental drug — and he killed himself horrifically while in the experiment. The university has just now made a policy change that excludes people from research trials who are restrained under a 72-hour emergency hold.
Markingson killed himself in 2004, and it’s taken 11 years to get this minor, and honestly, rather obvious change in policy. Why has it taken so long? Perhaps this attitude by Brian Herman, vice president for research, explains some of the problem.
Such patients “are in a situation where they are highly emotional because they have been brought in and they are restricted in their ability to do things,” Herman said. “It could be viewed by some … that they weren’t necessarily completely of free will to make a decision about whether to participate” in research.
It could be viewed by some…? Who are these wild-eyed radicals who think that maybe people who are being confined because they might be of danger to themselves or others, who are at such risk because of a serious mental health crisis, might not be in the best state of mind to carefully evaluate a detailed scientific procedure and provide informed consent? Yeah, they might be under observation because their loved ones are concerned that they might harm themselves, but only some wacko anti-science liberal would doubt that they’d still make wise decisions to serve their self-interest.
Some, huh. It seems to me that the kinds of people who don’t see that as obvious ought to be excluded from making policy decisions that involve some rudimentary comprehension of basic ideas in ethics.
But that’s just me. I guess I’m one of those rare “some”.