Making a killing, Carl Elliot’s piece in Mother Jones — a death at the hands of a pharmaceutical drug trial

Here are excerpts of two of the many articles covering the Mother Jones piece by Carl Elliot. You can get access to it here. I found it very hard to view and so I’ve not read the whole thing. I’ve been familiar with this story about Mary Weiss and her son for a long time however. It underscores in tragic definition what goes on all the time in these pharmaceutical clinical trials, I’m afraid. In Carlat’s piece he states it’s clear to him this was a trial that was manipulated to make the drug look good.

A Clinical Trial, A Suicide And Patient Safety — Pharmalot

What happens when a university is bound up in the outcome of an industry clinical trial? What does it say when university researchers are actively recruiting patients for a trial while also accepting consulting or speaking fees from the same drugmaker sponsoring the study? Is the research furthering commercial needs more so than scientific needs? And how are patients protected in such situations?

These are among the questions explored in a sobering piece in Mother Jones magazine by University of Minnesota bioethicist Carl Elliott. He focuses on the sorry plight of Mary Weiss, who lost her 26-year-old son, Dan, while he was enrolled – over her strenuous objections – in a trial at the University of Minnesota (yes, the same school) to compare AstraZeneca’s Seroquel antipsychotic with rival brands.

And Carlat’s piece:

“Making a Killing” New Carl Elliot Article in Mother Jones — Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Carlat’s article starts with this:
There’s a fascinating article by Carl Elliott in the current issue of Mother Jones. It’s called “Making a Killing,” and it shows how clinical trials have become marketing exercises for the pharmaceutical industry, sometimes at the expense of patients’ lives.

And ends with this:
I had read the CAFE study before, but as I was preparing this post, I noticed aspects of the design that had not struck me in the past. The study was truly manipulated in order to make Seroquel look good. In my next post I will delve into the specifics, so stay tuned.

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