NIH has recently released stricter conflict-of-interest rules for federally funded researchers in an effort to make sure that their work remains objective, says Forbes' Paul Thacker. But these rules may have never come to be were it not for University of Miami researcher Charles Nemeroff, he adds. Nemeroff was chair of psychiatry at Emory University, while also promoting GlaxoSmithKline's antidepressant Paxil. "While earning hundreds of thousands of dollars jetting around the country and giving talks about Paxil to doctors at fancy restaurants, Nemeroff also managed a multi-million dollar grant from the NIH to research drugs under development by Glaxo," Thacker says. Nemeroff was eventually investigated by Congress, and left Emory. He soon landed at the University of Miami. But why would UM hire him, Thacker asks. "According to new emails and other materials shown to me, UM officials had serious concerns about Nemeroff's history of ethical blunders. However, these emails suggest that Nemeroff's perceived ability to raise money trumped those concerns," Thacker says. This suggests that "despite new federal rules, the public must remain vigilant to ensure that medicine is practiced with the highest regard for ethics and patient safety," Thacker adds.
Sep 16, 2011