Undue influence? Emory researcher hid pharma payments

flickr photo / Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

The latest stunner from Sen. Charles Grassley’s investigation into drug company payments to doctors and researchers involves one of the country’s leading psychiatrists, Emory University’s Charles B. Nemeroff. The NYT’s Gardiner Harris reports that Nemeroff failed to report at least $1.2 million in income he received from consulting contracts with drug makers between 2000 and 2007.

In doing so, Nemeroff violated Emory’s rules, as well as federal research guidelines, Gardiner writes. After the NYT story broke, Nemeroff “voluntarily” stepped down as chairman of Emory’s psychiatry department, at least temporarily. Gardiner writes:

In one telling example, Dr. Nemeroff signed a letter dated July 15, 2004, promising Emory administrators that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GlaxoSmithKline to comply with federal rules. But on that day, he was at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., earning $3,000 of what would become $170,000 in income that year from that company — 17 times the figure he had agreed on.

Here’s what some other bloggers are writing:

Howard Brody, (author of  “Hooked: Ethics, the Medical Profession, and the Pharmaceutical Industry”) @ Ethics, Medicine and Pharma:

I have never met this person and for all I know he is a delightful human being. I bear him no personal ill will. The problem was that wherever I turned in my research on HOOKED, and the topic of conflicts of interest among academic physicians came up, Dr. Nemeroff seemed to be off the charts. He seemed to be the poster child for all that is wrong with the current cozy arrangements between Pharma and acadmic medicine.

Ed Silverman @ Pharmalot:

If you look at this schedule, which runs from 2000 to 2006, the nationally known psychiatrist, who until Friday night chaired the Emory School of Medicine psychiatry department, was a fixture on the Glaxo speaking circuit for such drugs as Paxil and Wellbutrin.

There he is at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, California, talking up Paxil CR. Here him chat at the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, South Carolina, the Monterey Fish Grotto in Pittsburgh or Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Birmingham, Alabama. No destination was too far from Atlanta…because Glaxo was paying.

CL Psych @ Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look:

The psychiatry world is belatedly exhibiting outrage toward a man whose ability to lure pharma cash seems to know no bounds. He may be the textbook case of a key opinion leader. Of course, I speak of Charles “Bling Bling” Nemeroff.

Daniel Carlat @ Carlat Psychiatry Blog:

If your head is beginning to spin, it is understandable. Nemeroff’s financial entanglements were (and are) extensive, complex, and of a scale possibly unprecedented in psychiatry.