The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have postponed a $9.3 million research grant to Emory University over allegations that the lead psychiatrist failed to divulge payments he received from drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Dr. Charles Nemeroff, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is voluntarily stepping down as principal investigator or co-investigator on all NIH grants at Emory, pending resolution of the case.
Nemeroff failed to disclose that he received $262,108 from GSK over three years. At the same time he was overseeing a NIH study on five anti-depressants produced by GSK, according to an open letter from Senator Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa) to Emory University in the Congressional Record.
While Dr. Nemeroff signed a letter in July 2004 promising the university that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GSK to comply with federal rules, he was at the Four Season Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming earning $3,000, part of the $170,000 he earned in that year from GSK.
Grassley is aggressively advocating transparency in the medical establishment and is promoting the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which will require drug companies and medical device makers to disclose any payments of value above $500 to physicians.
From 2000 to 2007, Nemeroff allegedly received $2.8 million or more through consulting arrangements with drug makers and failed to report more than $1.2 million of those funds to the university, according to the New York Times.
University officials are conducting an internal review of Nemeroff’s financial associations to ensure researchers involved in his grants have disclosed fully all other outside financial relationships.
According to a statement on Emory’s website, the university has created a centralized office to oversee the enforcement of its conflict-of-interest policies.
The suspended NIH grant was investigating which factors make common depression treatments more successful.
In June, Sen. Grassley reported that Dr. Joseph Biederman, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and two of his colleagues at Harvard, failed to report over three million dollars in payments they received from drug makers, while promoting the same drug makers psychiatric drugs for children. #