Emory psychiatrist steps down

Renowned psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff stepped down from his position as chairman of the psychiatry department at Emory University on Friday (Oct. 3) amid accusations that he's failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in pharmaceutical company payouts while receiving millions of dollars in federal research funding. Nemeroff's apparent lack of disclosure is being probed by Senator linkurl:Charles Grassley;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54832/ (R-IA) from his perch as the ra

By | October 6, 2008

Renowned psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff stepped down from his position as chairman of the psychiatry department at Emory University on Friday (Oct. 3) amid accusations that he's failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in pharmaceutical company payouts while receiving millions of dollars in federal research funding. Nemeroff's apparent lack of disclosure is being probed by Senator linkurl:Charles Grassley;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54832/ (R-IA) from his perch as the ranking Republican in the Senate Finance Committee. Following the psychiatrist's departure, Emory University officials told the linkurl:__Atlanta Journal-Constitution__;http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2008/10/04/Emory_professor_investigation.html over the weekend that the school is launching its own investigation into Nemeroff's activities. In a linkurl:letter;http://frwebgate6.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/PDFgate.cgi?WAISdocID=310197337729+0+1+0&WAISaction=retrieve sent to Emory president James Wagner last week, Grassley outlined discrepancies in Nemeroff's disclosure reports to the university. From 2003 - 2008, as Nemeroff served as principal investigator on a multi-million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to study five GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) antidepressants, the psychiatrist was paid - and failed to report to Emory - more than $100,000 to give promotional talks on the company's products. Grassley wrote that "in 2003 GSK paid Dr. Nemeroff about $119,000 in speaking fees and expenses. Based upon information provided from Emory, Dr. Nemeroff did not report that he was giving promotional talks for GSK on Paxil and Lamictal." Grassley also pointed out that in 2004, Emory's own conflict of interest committee reprimanded Nemeroff for failing to report earnings from GSK. Emory and NIH policies state that researchers must report potentially conflicting financial ties to industry that total $10,000 per year or more. Nemeroff told the committee that he would adhere to the policy in the future, wrote Grassley. Shortly after making this promise, however, Nemeroff was back on the promotional circuit for GSK, giving two talks for the company for a fee greater than $10,000, according to Grassley's letter. In 2006, Nemeroff linkurl:quit;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/24445/ as the editor-in-chief of __Neuropsychopharmacology__ after coming under fire for failing to disclose financial ties to a device company whose products he reviewed favorably in the journal. Before that, in 2003, Nemeroff and an Emory colleague linkurl:took heat;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/21640/ for publishing a paper in __Nature Neuroscience__ that praised a trio of products to treat mood disorders, while failing to mention that the two had significant financial stakes in the products. "There were serious allegations in the past, and now there are even more allegations. And we are investigating," Emory University executive vice president of academic affairs, Earl Lewis, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lewis also told the __AJC__ that Nemeroff could be fired from Emory depending on the outcome of the university's investigation. Check out a detailed timeline of Nemeroff's alleged indiscretions over at the linkurl:Pharmalot;http://www.pharmalot.com/2008/10/emory-fiddled-while-nemeroff-earned/ blog.

Comments

Avatar of: ERIC J MURPHY

ERIC J MURPHY

Posts: 18

October 7, 2008

Disclosures, lack of true disclosures, and now reaction of the U.S. Senate. Will the pendulum swing so far as to make the entire system pay for the failings of one individual? \n\nWhile certainly there are more than one individual who fails to make full disclosure, in this case it appears that Emory University took a minimalist approach in enforcing the rules. Enforcing compliance with the rules under which we work is an institutions responsibility. So what happened at Emory? Is this the classic situation where a professor has enough grant money that someone at a higher level limits the ability of a committee to operate? \n\nI don't think this situation indicates that the system is broken, but I do think that it suggests perhaps the rules are applied in an inconsistent manner. This is a matter that all institutions should examine with their own policies and application of these policies to individuals within their jurisdiction.

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