The Grassley spotlight is roving... roving... and locks in on a University of California at Los Angeles spine surgeon. Congratulations, Dr. Jeffrey Wang, you're the next target in Sen. Charles Grassley's academia-and-industry investigation. According to the reform-minded senator, Wang didn't tell the university about $459,500 he received in consulting and speaking fees from device makers.
You'll recall that Grassley has been digging about in academic disclosure forms for over a year, demanding information on financial relationships between doctors/professors/researchers and drug and device makers. Under the auspices of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley has publicized payments to prominent researchers, particularly in psychiatry. The result? Universities and the National Institutes of Health have lowered the boom on these academics--and the Iowa Republican's drive to mandate disclosure has gained steam.
In Wang's case, the companies involved include Johnson & Johnson's DePuy device unit, Medtronic and FzioMed, the senator said. The payments weren't revealed to UCLA until Grassley asked to see the surgeon's disclosure forms. At the time Wang was paid, he was also doing research on the companies' products. J&J and FzioMed declined to comment when the Wall Street Journal asked; a Medtronic spokesman told the paper that the company "is not in a position to know whether Dr. Wang honored his respective employer's conflict-of-interest requirements." UCLA told Grassley that the doctor had "erred in completing" the forms.