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UD Goes Ballistic Over Doctors on the Dole

Margaret Soltan is an English professor at George Washington University who writes an outstanding blog about matters academic.

Her latest post concerns the continuing firestorm over doctors on the dole. Perhaps our administration could learn something about the need to stop doing business as usual? Perhaps we could speed up action here at the U about conflict of interest?

From MPR: "The recommendations have been emailed to members of the university's medical school community along with a request for input. University of Minnesota medical school leaders say they don't have a timeline to act on the recommendations, but would like to see some action taken in the next year."

From UD:

Emory University, his employer, has known for years he’s a greedy son of a bitch who doesn’t think rules apply to him, and it’s done nothing. It shares Nemeroff’s cynicism, enjoying as much as he does the corrupting pharma money the psychiatric researcher brings the school.

No conflict of interest here, in other words: It’s in Nemeroff’s interest to get rich, and it’s in Emory’s interest to get rich.

The field of academic psychiatry is filthy all the way through right now, with Nemeroff and his crony, Alan Schatzberg, heading it, setting an example, showing everyone the way.

Supine universities, a nation of pill poppers… the world is their oyster.

The journalists should certainly interview as many professors as they can in the department Nemeroff chaired, psychiatry and behavioral sciences. They need to ask these people why none of them ever expressed any reservations about a chair whose behavior was a well-established scandal. Perhaps their silence means that they, taking their cue from their leader, also make conflict of interest the basis of their professional lives. If the behavior’s endemic in the department, the journalists need to ask the administration why the university’s conflict of interest procedures are total shit.

From the New York Times article that gives some background:

Published: October 3, 200

One of the nation’s most influential psychiatrists earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, is the most prominent figure to date in a series of disclosures that is shaking the world of academic medicine and seems likely to force broad changes in the relationships between doctors and drug makers.

The findings suggest that universities are all but incapable of policing their faculty’s conflicts of interest. Almost every major medical school and medical society is now reassessing its relationships with drug and device makers.

As revelations from Mr. Grassley’s investigation have dribbled out, trade organizations for the pharmaceutical industry and medical colleges have agreed to support the bill. Eli Lilly and Merck have announced that they would list doctor payments next year even without legislation.

Universities once looked askance at professors who consulted for more than one or two drug companies, but that changed after a 1980 law gave the universities ownership of patents discovered with federal money.

The law helped give birth to the biotechnology industry and led to the discovery of dozens of life-saving medicines. Consulting arrangements soon proliferated at medical schools, and Dr. Nemeroff — who at one point consulted for 21 drug and device companies simultaneously — became a national model.

He may now become a model for a broad reassessment of industry relationships. Many medical schools, societies and groups are considering barring doctors from giving lectures on drug or device marketing.

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