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Conflict of Interest Investigation

A Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is currently investigating the financial ties of researchers in this country to the pharmaceutical industry. At issue is whether some of these doctors, as the investigation has revealed, underreported the funding they received from the drug companies.

Manufacturing pharmaceutical products is a trillion dollar industry. Research funded by the pharmaceutical companies, who stand to profit from any results supporting their products, cannot but be biased. Pharmaceutical companies have long been known to suppress those results that don’t support their marketing efforts. When the pharmacuetical companies pull the strings of their academic research puppets, the health of the world’s human population can suffer as a result.


The National Association for the Mentally Ill, at one point, came under the scrutiny of the investigators. NAMI turned over documents to the committee revealing that 56% of NAMI funding, well over a ½, came from the pharmaceutical industry in 2008.

Among the people being investigated and the causes for their investigation I list below:

Alan Schatzberg

Current President of the American Psychiatric Association

Owned $6,000,000 equity in drug developer Corcept Therapeutics at the same time he was principal investigator in National Institute of Heath funded Stanford University study of Corcept drug mifepristone.

Initiated patent application to on mifepristone to treat ‘psychotic depression’ in 1997.

Co-founded Corcept, 1998, and in 1999, extended National Institute of Heath grant for the study of ‘psychotic depression’ to include mifepristone.

In 2008, he stepped down as principal investigator due to the ongoing Congressional investigation.

Joseph Biederman

Chief of the Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital

He has received funds from 15 Pharmaceutical companies.

Earned $1,600,000 in consulting fees from drugs companies between 2000 and 2007, but did not report all of his earnings to Harvard University.

He promised Johnson & Johnson in advance that his research would prove their drug risperidone effective in treating preschool age children.

Melissa DelBello

Research Psychiatrist, University of Cincinnati

She was cited for failure to disclose to the University of Cincinnati much of her earnings from the drug companies.

Lead author of a 2002 study that reported some patients were helped by the drug seraquel, manufactured by AstraZeneca, which paid her $180,000 between 2003 and 2004.

She disclosed that she’d received $100,000 from that company from 2005 – 2007 when it was actually $238, 000.

Frederick Goodwin

Former National Institute of Mental Health director

He was the host of “The Infinite Mind” on National Public Radio, a show that had a 10 year run until it was removed due to investigation.

He earned at least $1,300,000 between 2000 and 2007 for giving marketing lectures to doctors on behalf of drug manufacturers.

Charles Nemeroff

Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine

He received between 2000 and 2006 $960,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, but reported to Emory U receiving only $35,000 of it.

Between 2000 and 2008, he received more than $2,800,000 from drug manufacturers but reported failed to disclose $1,200,000 of this.

2006, he stepped down as editor of Neuropsychopharmacology after publishing favorable review of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device, manufactured by Cyberonics, for which he was paid consultant fees he failed to publish.

2003, he co-authored favorable review of therapies in Nature Neuroscience, failing to mention his significant financial interests in three of them, including own the patent for one—a lithium patch.

At one point he consulted for 21 drug and device companies simultaneously.

Martin Keller

Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of Brown University, Chairman of the Psychiatry Department of the Albert Medical School

His co-authored Study 329 on Paxil use in children and adolescents was fiercely criticized in journals for misrepresenting data, suppressing information linking drug to suicidal tendencies and reaching a conclusion unsupported by the data.

There are claims that a GSK affiliated employee ghostwrote Study 329, while Keller made huge sums of money from that drug company.

In 1999, Keller earned more than $842,000, in 1998, $556,000, in 1997, $444,000 from companies manufacturing antidepressants. He did not disclose the extent of his financial ties with companies in the journals that published his research.

Augustus John Rush

Former Vice-Chairman of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

He Reported only $3,000 of the nearly $18,000 Eli Lilly paid him in 2001.

Between 2000 and 2007 Augustus John neglected to report another $12,000 from drug companies.

Thomas Spencer

Assistant Director of the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

He failed to disclose at $1,000,000 in earning from drug companies between 2000 and 2007.

Karen Wagner

Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch

She reported failed to disclose more than $150,000 in payments from GlaxoSmithKline.

She was a co-researcher with Keller on Study 329. In 2001, when study published, company reported paid her $18,255.

Between 2000 and 2005, GlaxoSmithKline paid her more than $160,000, though she reported only $600 of this payment to the University.

In 2002, Eli Lily paid her over $11,000, undisclosed.

Timothy Wilens

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Timothy Alleged failed to report at least $1,600,000 earned from drug manufacturers between 2000 and 2007.

Zachary Stowe

Director of the Woman’s Mental Health Program Emory University

Dr Stowe was getting GlaxoSmithKline company money while doing research on the use of antidepressants in pregnant woman.

He reportedly received $154,400 from GlaxoSmithKline in 2007, and $99,300 in the 1st 10 months of 2008.