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How to press for an investigation of a suicide in an unethical clinical trial

I am looking for some advice. Two and half years ago I wrote an article for Mother Jones about a research scandal at the University of Minnesota, where I work. The short version: a mentally ill young man was coerced into a dubious pharmaceutical industry-sponsored antipsychotic trial over the objections of his mother; she tried for months to get him out of the trial, warning that he was going to kill himself; her warnings were ignored; he committed suicide. The university claims no fault, and since it was a privately sponsored trial, federal authorities say that oversight is not their responsibility.

Our latest effort is a petition to the governor.  It has gotten over 2200 signatures plus a lot of high-profile support from Important People (three former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, the editor of The Lancet, a former editor of BMJ, the former Health and Disability Commissioner of New Zealand, the historian who uncovered the Guatemala syphilis studies, and about 200 ethicists, physicians, social scientists and health lawyers.)

My question is where to go from here.  While I have been pleased with the support, it has come largely from the international community, not from Minnesota, where it is really needed.  And it has gotten very little support at all on campus.  Does anyone have any advice?

Here are some links: an op-ed I wrote on the case itself; a list of scholars who have signed; the petition itself; and a more recent update.


Carl Elliott

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