For the first time since Stanford University last month reassigned his National Institutes of Health grant to another principal investigator (look here), the chair of the school's psychiatry department is responding to the episode, which actually began earlier this year when the US Senate Finance Committee named him as an example of federally funded academics with conflicts of interest.
You may recall that Schatzberg, who is also president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, owns about $6 million in stock in Corcept Therapeutics, which is studying the development of mifepristone for treating psychotic depression. He is also a co-patent holder for the drug and he received an NIH grant to oversee the research.
Stanford insisted he had no role in dealing with patients or analyzing data in mifepristone research, even though he is listed as a primary investigator on several grants and papers, and NIH rules maintain a principal investigator is responsible “for the scientific or technical aspects of the grant and for day-to-day management of the project or program.”
Under pressure, however, from Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee, the university and the NIH last month worked out a compromise that resulted in shifting Schatzberg off the grant. Since then, Schatzberg maintained a studious silence. Last week, however, he wrote a letter to APA members to clarify "misperceptions and false statements about my research and ethics."
In his September 5 letter, Schatzberg briefly summarizes events of the past several months, and then states unequivocally that he did not conceal any "pertinent" information during the recent APA election process and that he consistently disclosed conflicts of interest. He also uses the letter to deny charges reported elsewhere that he embellished results of mifiprestone research and insisted that all results were published in a "transparent" manner.
For those unfamiliar, Health Care Renewal's Bernard Carroll wrote several lengthy posts this summer in which he dissected Schatzberg's various disclosures and publications. Here is one example.