Honoured in Britain, the US psychiatrist who took $1.2m from drug companies
Professor's invitation to give prestigious lecture in London causes outrage among peers
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 11 June 2013
Britain’s premier institute for the study of mental illness has become embroiled in a damaging row over its decision to invite a disgraced US academic to give the inaugural lecture for a new research centre.
The decision by the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, in central London, Europe’s largest psychiatric research organisation, to invite Professor Charles Nemeroff, an expert in the treatment of depression, has split the psychiatric profession and been attacked by members of the institute itself. Professor Nemeroff, a leading authority on the biological causes of mental illness, is one of the highest profile doctors to have been exposed for concealing large payments from pharmaceutical companies.
He was forced to resign his post at Emory University, Atlanta, in 2008 after an investigation revealed that he had failed to report more than $1.2m of payments from GlaxoSmithKline, despite having signed an undertaking to limit payments to $10,000 a year.
He received the payments whilst undertaking a study on behalf of the National Institutes of Health into drugs made by GSK.
In 2009, Professor Nemeroff was appointed chair of psychiatry at the University of Miami and was subsequently awarded a research grant of $400,000 a year for the next five years by the National Institutes of Health. In 2012 it emerged that US Senator Charles Grassley, whose 2008 investigation triggered Professor Nemeroff’s downfall, had written to the National Institutes of Health to ask why they had given him a grant when he was still under federal investigation.
Now a group of UK psychiatrists have written to the Institute of Psychiatry protesting against its decision to invite Professor Nemeroff to give the “inaugural annual lecture for the new Centre for Affective Disorders”, which is due to take place at the institute next Monday.
The group representing the radical Critical Psychiatry Network claims the Nemeroff case is frequently cited as “one of the starkest examples of the financial corruption of medicine” through its “overly cosy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry”.
“Many medical institutions have recognised this relationship is unhealthy and is bringing the profession into disrepute. We find it surprising therefore that the Institute of Psychiatry has seen fit to invite Nemeroff to deliver this important lecture,” they wrote.
Separately, Derek Summerfield, honorary senior lecturer at the Institute, wrote in the BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal, last week that the Institute of Psychiatry’s lauding of Professor Nemeroff as “one of the world’s leading experts” showed how psychiatric academe “sails blithely on as if such revelations beg no broader questions about its associations and supposed scientific independence.”
In a response, the Institute said it was “aware of the concerns” and took the issue of declaring financial conflicts of interest “extremely seriously”.
“We have been informed by Professor Nemeroff that he will not be presenting any research that was funded by commercial companies or affected by commercial implications. Obviously, he will be declaring any relevant conflicts of interest prior to his lecture.”
Professor Nemeroff could not be contacted for comment. He has previously said that his payments from GSK were for talks about GSK drugs now on the market, while his research funded by NIH involved basic laboratory studies of GSK chemical compounds that were years away from market.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
Far-right organisation has defended its actions on Facebook
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Life & Style blogs
Ebola outbreak: Virus to kill 67,000 in Monrovia by December, claims academic study
Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
Dear young men: The old stereotypes of what it is to be a 'man' are a load of rubbish
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
What do the text messages between you and your partner reveal about your relationship?
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
£4848 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Outstanding...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors/Long Term Teaching Ass...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Cover Supervisors needed for seco...