Sunday, October 5, 2008
Academic Capitalism Watch: Corruption in Medical Research
The New York Times reports that high profile, influential medical leaders have hidden from their universities their incomes from high-pay consulting contracts with leading pharmaceutical companies.
The Times reports that Howard Nemeroff, one of the nation’s most influential psychiatrists, earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, but failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules.
Dr. Nemeroff signed a letter dated July 15, 2004, promising Emory administrators that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GlaxoSmithKline to comply with federal rules. In fact he earned $170,000 that year from that company — 17 times the figure he had reported.
Senator Charles Grassley, Repoublican of Iowa, said that “after questioning about 20 doctors and research institutions, it looks like problems with transparency are everywhere . . . The current system for tracking financial relationships isn’t working.” His report suggests, says the Times, that universities are all but incapable of policing their faculty’s conflicts of interest. It adds that "almost every major medical school and medical society is now reassessing its relationships with drug and device makers."
I find this incoherent. If they are really incapable of monitoring the situation, how could any re-assessment of their policies make a difference?
It is more likely that universities have been turning a blind eye to gross violations of academic ethics and federal law in order to profit from the lavish contributions of big pharma to so-called medical reasearch -- which is really the marketing program of the industry.
No wonder they call medical research the "gold standard".