The University of Minnesota has issued a written apology to a man who said he had been coerced into a joining a psychiatric-drug trial, the Star-Tribune reports.
Robert Huber, now 44, was admitted to the university’s medical center in 2007 with symptoms of schizophrenia; while confined there, he said, he was pushed to enroll in a safety test of the drug bifeprunox. Mr. Huber said he had participated in the study because he felt he would not be permitted to leave the hospital otherwise.
The patient’s accusation led the university to commission a yearlong review of the case. The review concluded that Mr. Huber had not been coerced, but that he had been prepared for the study prematurely and had been denied access to information about the safety of the drug.
The case has reignited concerns about the university’s troubled psychiatric department. In 2004 another patient, Dan Markingson, committed suicide while enrolled in a drug trial at the medical center. The university defended Mr. Markingson’s care, but since then, scathing reviews of its research using human subjects prompted the chairman of the psychiatry department to resign.
In the cases of both Mr. Huber and Mr. Markingson, one associate professor in the psychiatry department, Stephen Olson, was accused of coercive recruiting.