It’s fashionable to think that every problem in clinical trials arises from the actions of grasping, immoral pharma companies but listen to Carl Elliott, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, “In the 23 years I have been teaching and writing about the ethics of medical research, I have never come across a case of abuse this outrageous.” He is talking about a trial at his own institution and the subsequent behaviour of the university.

A pharma company — Astra Zeneca — was involved but they were bit players. The University claimed immunity in a lawsuit brought by the mother of a young man who committed suicide during a clinical trial. Then they sued her for their costs. When she tried to deliver a letter of protest to the University President, she was expelled by security guards. It is a quite horrifying story of malpractice and arrogance. On balance, you might really rather deal with a cuddly pharmaceutical company.

minn