Emory doc hid $1.2M in pharma payments

Here's yet another exhibit in the ongoing case for public disclosure of drugmakers' payments to doctors. One of the top psychiatrists in the U.S. failed to report $1.2 million in pharma consulting payments to his university, a Congressional investigation found. Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University made some $2.8 million from drug company work from 2000 to 2007, the New York Times reports, and hid almost half of that income from administrators.

In one telling example, Nemeroff signed a promise to Emory that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GlaxoSmithKline, to comply with federal research-funding rules. But that very day, he was at Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, earning $3,000 of the $170,000 he'd end up collecting from GSK that year.

The revelations come in an investigation spearheaded by Sen. Charles Grassley, whose Senate committee has been probing pharma-slash-physician financial relationships. “After questioning about 20 doctors and research institutions, it looks like problems with transparency are everywhere,” Grassley told the New York Times. “The current system for tracking financial relationships isn’t working.”

The Nemeroff case apparently adds ammo to Grassley's push for federally mandated disclosure of pharma's payments to doctors. And Grassley's revelations about the Emory doc have prompted immediate university action: Nemeroff has stepped down as chairman of the psych department, "pending resolution" of the allegations. For his part, Nemeroff says he thought he was in compliance with the rules and pledges to work with investigators.

- see the story in the New York Times
- read the item at Nature's blog

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