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Prohibiting drug trial participation (new law)

Published (5/15/2009)
By Patty Ostberg
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People under state civil commitment will be prohibited from participating in a psychiatric clinical drug trial while the order is in effect, under a new law signed May 11 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The law, sponsored by Rep. Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove) and Sen. Don Betzold (DFL-Fridley), will allow a patient to participate if the treating psychiatrist submits an affidavit citing its benefit to the person. However, the treating psychiatrist must not be the psychiatrist conducting the drug trial. The law is effective Aug. 1, 2009.

Many psychiatric drug trials already say patients at risk of suicide or of hurting others should not be recruited, Dr. Carl Elliott, professor at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota, told a House committee. While participation in a drug study carries risk, patients under civil commitment may not understand what they are signing up for, he said.

Mary Weiss testified in a House committee that her son, Dan Markingson, committed suicide when participating in a 2004 drug trial. She voiced concerns to his case manager about his deteriorating condition, but was unsuccessful in pulling him out of the drug trial. “I have promised Dan that I will fight for the rights of the mentally ill until the day I die,” she said. “This bill will protect those in the future.”


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