Monday, October 6, 2008

Detailing Deception, or, Nemeroff by the Numbers

As more information surfaces about Dr. Charles Nemeroff, the picture becomes more complicated and more sordid. Below is a table of Dr. Nemeroff's income from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) vs. his disclosures, from the Grassley letter.

From 2000 to 2006, GSK paid Nemeroff a total of $960,488. Note that this was not research grant money, or money for Emory's psychiatry department. These were fees that went into his personal bank account, which he earned by either sitting on GSK's Advisory Board, or speaking to doctors about GSK products. His typical fee for a talk was $3500 plus expenses, but sometimes he made more.

Of this $960,488, the total amount he disclosed to Emory was $34,998.

By 2004, Emory officials knew that Nemeroff was hiding financial information from the university, and its conflict of interest committee investigated. On June 24, 2004, the committee issued this confidential report, which was obtained and posted by the New York Times. The committee found that Nemeroff committed "serious" violations of Emory's conflict of interest policies regarding his financial relationships with Eli Lilly, Janssen, Merck, and Cypress Pharmaceuticals. They created a series of conflict of interest management plans for each of these relationships. It is not known whether he followed these plans, because the Senate inquiry has focused on his relationships with GSK.

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. Luckily, Senator Grassley's office prepared a timeline of deception which I have pasted in miniature below, but which you can read in full scale on the last page of Grassley's letter to Emory.

As Emory's investigation proceeds, I assume we will find out more. Meanwhile, Nemeroff has temporarily resigned as chairman pending the results of the inquiry. My prediction is that we will be hearing about differing definitions of "consulting," along the lines of Clinton's infamous "it depends on what the word is is."


Anonymous said...

It seems apparent what Emory will conclude with their "investigation": someone else caught on to our illicit gotten gains, so we will just wait them out and go back to the status quo. They knew of this in '04 and basically did nothing until now? So, they care now? Um, what is the color of the sky in their world? I know: GREEN!!!

Sort of what addicts do? Change will only occur when consequences are finally felt and accepted. Maybe legal consequences starting with Nemeroff? Yeah, still waiting for those monkeys to come flying out!

Anonymous said...

It probably is not the best analogy, but after reading the piece by Bob Weir at the American thinker about the recent guilty verdict against OJ Simpson, I really felt there are some similarities between how this henious criminal got away with murder, just like what are henious crimes by my colleagues in taking "drug money" and espousing beliefs/claims that could be putting the public at risk.

For those interested (and I hope the link is correct): postman always rings twice.html

One thing I have learned both professionally and personally is that when people who are truly evil and corruptable, and yet somehow have the funds to protect themselves, they always can find an attorney who can potentially get them off. That is what bothers me when I read what Grassley is exposing here, as I believe it has legal consequences. And yet, as universities are exposed as colluding parties, the "legal beagles", as Weir called them in his piece, come out of the woodwork when the money is dumped out on the table.

Sorry, my weekend glee has been dampened by the reality of weekday expectations. With this much money, influence, and power at stake, the needs of the many will be trounced yet again.

It is truly sad how psychiatry has sold out these past 2 decades. And, the silence is deafening, outside the efforts of decent people like Dr C and Sen Grassley.

Thus, it comes back to whores and cowards.

Anonymous said...

Nada Stotland, President of the American Psychiatric Association, told the Los Angeles Times that she thinks psychiatry is being unfairly singled out.

Has she ever thought for one moment that there is a reason psychiatry is under scrutiny? It's not like you need to watch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" to be concerned. People with mental illness are some of the most vulnerable in society. Shouldn't the people who care for them, who provide the scientific evidence for their treatment, be expected to meet a higher standard than a podiatrist or dermatologist? Isn't this just obvious?

Stotland's defensive comments do little to allay suspicions.

Anonymous said...

I am a psychiatrist and I had a patient come into her session and the first thing she wanted to know was whether or not I was "on the take" with the drug industry. Thanks Chuck. This is only the beginning of the credibility crisis that is facing our profession.

Radagast said...

I was just thinking out loud on Soulful Sepulcher about the possible implications of The Nematode's actions. I think that some really serious and heavy duty government organizations should be looking at this, given the amount of cash involved.

Assuming The Nematode failed to disclose all this income to the IRS, then we're talking tax evasion. Tax evasion is a crime, which brings it under the remit of anti-money laundering law (any and all proceeds of crime fall under AML law). The penalties for money laundering are very severe.

I don't expect any such investigations will ever take place. But they should.