We all need reminders once in a while, but Emory Univeristy psychiatry professor Charles Nemeroff had an unusual way of generating one. On February 9, 2000, he wrote himself an invitation on the letterhead of the Depression and Anxiety journal, which he edited at the time, to write an article to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the introduction of Wyeth's Effexor antidepressant.
For his trouble, Nemeroff offered to pay himself a $3,000 fee, although some handwriting scribbled on the letter indicates Kerry Ressler was later invited to co-author the manuscript and the fee would be split. Moreover, an attached invoice indicates Nemeroff was actually to receive a total of $4,500 - $3,000 for organizing the 'honorarium' and $1,500, or half of the fee for the manuscript.
According to Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee who is investigating Nemeroff and other university researchers for alleged undisclosed conflicts of interest, Emory told him the account from which Nemeroff was paid to organize the supplement article was funded by an unrestricted grant from Wyeth.
This was disclosed in a letter Grassley sent to Will Pesce, the ceo at John Wiley & Sons, which publishes the journal, and who was asked to provide the committee with its own policies on disclosing conflicts of interest. Why? "I could not locate any disclosures in the supplement (article) explaining that the editor and the other authors of this supplement were paid by Wyeth," Grassley wrote Pesce.
A John Wiley spokeswoman tell us this: "We did get the letter from Senator Grassley and are looking into it." And she also sends us the publisher's current ethics guidelines, which you can read here.
An Emory spokesman sent us this: "Emory University has been completely truthful and is well aware of our obligation to do so. We have devoted considerable time and effort to investigating this matter and are soon to announce our findings and response. We have an obligation to be fair and judicious in our resolution of this matter. In our 17-page, December 5 letter to Senator Grassley, addressing a wide range of questions, we asked that his staff provide us any information that is inconsistent with Dr. Nemeroff’s position with regard to the content of his talks. In response, Senator Grassley provided a letter from GlaxoSmithKline, which we are reviewing. Meanwhile, we recommend that any interested person read in full our letter of December 5, a href='http://www.pharmalot.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/grassley-to-nih-and-emory.pdf'>which is contained in this link."
Hat tip to WSJ Health blog