NPR doc didn't disclose pharma payments

We've heard about drugmaker's payments and grants to prescribing doctors, researchers, medical societies, teaching hospitals, CME companies... and now, a radio host. The psychiatrist and former NIMH director Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin (photo), whose radio program "The Infinite Mind" airs on NPR, collected some $1.3 million from drugmakers between 2000 and 2007. Goodwin never mentioned those payments to listeners, despite the fact that some of his programs dealt with subjects "important to the commercial interests of the companies for which he consults," the New York Times reports.

The payments have come to light as part of a Congressional investigation into drugmakers' potential influence on prescribing habits. For instance, Goodwin told listeners that children with untreated bipolar disorder could suffer brain damage (a view not universally shared in psychiatry). During the same program, Goodwin touted the safety and efficacy of treatments for the disease, particularly mood stabilizing drugs. And the same day, GlaxoSmithKline paid the psychiatrist $2,500 to give a promotional lecture for its mood stabilizer Lamictal, just part of the $329,000 he collected for promoting Lamictal that year, Congressional records show.

Goodwin told the NYT that the radio show's producer knew about his consulting with drugmakers, but that neither he nor the producer realized at the time that they should have disclosed the relationships. "In retrospect, that should have been disclosed," Goodwin told the paper. But the NPR producer told the paper that Goodwin had denied getting money from drugmakers. "The fact that he was out on the stump for pharmaceutical companies was not something we were aware of. It would have violated our agreements," producer Bill Lichtenstein said in an interview.

NPR now says it's pulling the program as soon as possible and that, had it been aware of Goodwin's financial relationships, it would not have aired "The Infinite Mind." A Glaxo spokesperson said that the responsibility for disclosing its payments to Goodwin lay with the doctor. "We continue to believe that healthcare professionals are responsible for making disclosures to their employers and other entities, in this case National Public Radio and its listeners."

- read the NYT story

Recent Special Reports:
Top 5 layoffs of 2008
Top 10 mistakes biotechs make