U of M Regents under fire over drug research controversy

Former Governor Arne Carlson is calling for a constitutional amendment that would give the public more say in the way University of Minnesota Regents are appointed. It's the latest development involving the U's ongoing research controversy.

The long-time booster of the University testified at a hearing on Thursday night on ways the school can improve its human subject research.

"This scandal could not have occurred if the Board of Regents had done their job," Carlson told the panel. "The bottom line is the lure of big pharma money, you abandoned your accountability."

Carlson blames the Regents for the ongoing controversy over the death of Dan Markingson.

Friday marks the 11th anniversary of Markinson's violent suicide while enrolled in a psychiatric drug study at the University. The case has raised serious ethical concerns about the conduct of researchers in the psych department.

"Was it perfect in the past? No. We understand that, but we're going forward to make this a better institution," said Regent, Dean Johnson.

One person who boycotted the hearing is Robert...A research subject who the Fox 9 Investigators profiled last year.

"I was incompetent and I didn't know what I was doing," Robert said when he talked with Fox 9.

Robert complained of being pressured to take part in a study of an experimental drug that caused serious side effects. In fact, the medication never got FDA approval because of safety concerns.

This week the U of M informed Robert that an internal investigation determined he knew what he was getting into and that he was not pressured or coerced.

Dr. Michael Carome is a former government regulator and expert on human research protection who reviewed Robert's medical records for the Fox 9 Investigators.

It seems as if they've completely discounted the person who counts the most," Dr. Carome said in a phone interview reacting to the results of the investigation. "Given those circumstances its hard to conclude otherwise that he wasn't, at minimum, pressured to be in the study."

The University of Minnesota won't talk about the investigation citing privacy laws. Robert says the report is insufficient and lacks integrity.