April 29, 2014: Former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson Writes to the Board of Regents

On April 29, 2014, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson sent a letter to the University of Minnesota Regents and expressed concern about the University’s refusal to support an independent investigation of the “suicide-death” of Dan Markingson and determine whether other deaths and injuries had occurred in psychiatric clinical trials. Carlson wrote, “Considering the fact that considerable funds from drug companies is involved, that University professors and clinicians are hired and paid for by these companies, and that mentally ill patients are utilized as subjects, one would expect the highest level of review and scrutiny along with full transparency. Were the Regents notified? Were any public officials with oversight responsibility notified? Were the parents of the subjects treated in a compassionate manner and given a full understanding of their child’s death? Sadly, the answer in all cases is no.”

Governor Carlson asked the Regents to answer two questions: “How many research subjects have died or been seriously injured in psychiatric research studies at the University and what were the circumstances surrounding those deaths and injuries?” Carlson urged the Board of Regents to “at minimum” hold a public hearing on the matter. He also drew attention to the failure of the university’s prospective review to address “the issue of past justice” and specific allegations of research misconduct. Noting the growing chorus of calls for a credible independent investigation and expressing solidarity with critics of the University’s senior administration, Carlson stated, “I have joined that group and have pledged to use my efforts to make certain justice and full transparency become a reality.”

In response to Governor Carlson’s letter, a university spokesperson provided a familiar response. The spokesperson stated, “It appears Gov. Carlson’s concerns are based on misinformation that continues to be cited by those calling for yet another investigation. He offers no new information and his letter doesn’t change the facts of the case.” Despite senior administrators’ claims that no “further” investigations of alleged research misconduct are needed, Governor Carlson continues to press for answers to his questions, an investigation of the Markingson case, and an inquiry addressing related allegations of psychiatric research misconduct.

Arne H. Carlson, “Re: Suicide-death of Dan Markingson,” Letter to University of Minnesota Regents, April 29, 2014.

Carl Elliott, Former Gov. Arne Carlson wants to know: ‘How many psychiatric research subjects have died at the U?” Fear and Loathing in Bioethics, May 9, 2014.

Alex Friedrich, “Ex-Gov. Carlson asks U regents about Markingson death,” MPR News, May 12, 2014.

Jeff Baillon, “Legislative auditor to review drug trial practices at U of M,” KMSP-Fox 9, June 16, 2014.

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