Sen. Charles Grassley is at it again. The perennial pharma critic has been knocking university researchers who don't fully disclose their ties to the drug industry--and pushing the National Institutes of Health to police that disclosure. Now Grassley is spurring universities themselves to hand over the info. The Senate Finance Committee sent letters to 20 institutions asking for potential conflicts of interest with drugmakers.
Adding urgency to that call for information was Grassley's own disclosure that a University of Texas researcher hadn't reported $150,000 in speaking fees from GlaxoSmithKline. That researcher, Karen Wagner, had worked on NIH-funded studies of GSK's antidepressant Paxil.
Meanwhile, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni met yesterday with Grassley's committee staff; presumably they hashed over Grassley's calls for NIH to yank funding from universities that don't disclose all payments from pharma. "Starting today, the NIH could send a signal that business as usual is over," Grassley told the Wall Street Journal. "The simple threat of losing prestigious and sizable NIH grants would force accurate financial disclosure."