Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Emory e-mail suggests media manipulation

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 7:35 PM

click to enlarge Dr. Charles Nemeroff
  • Dr. Charles Nemeroff

Documents released in a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing in September suggest that Emory University officials tried to downplay the controversy surrounding an esteemed but embattled faculty member.

Dr. Charles Nemeroff, one of the nation’s leading depression researchers, is under Senate investigation for allegedly failing to disclose $1.2 million he received from pharmaceutical companies from 2000 to 2007. In some cases, Nemeroff gave talks or published research that bolstered the companies’ products.

In July 2006, the Wall Street Journal published an article stating that Nemeroff failed to disclose payments he received from a company, Cyberonics Inc., whose product he wrote favorably about in a prestigious medical journal where he served as editor. Nemeroff later said he submitted a detailed disclosure about his relationship with the company, but it didn’t make it into print.

The day after the WSJ story ran, Nemeroff received an e-mail from Claudia Adkison, executive associate dean of the Emory University School of Medicine. The e-mail was released several weeks ago by the Senate committee:

“In working on handling the reporter, I tried to make this story go away because Emory’s name is in the middle of it. I have been grateful that the reporter was not sophisticated enough to ask all the right questions.”

Adkison also wrote that the reporter “was mostly right. He just doesn’t know all the facts.”

When contacted about the e-mail, Emory Vice President for Communications Ron Sauder said, “We’re not going to respond point-by-point to e-mails or memoranda.”

Sauder also said that on Nov. 3, the university announced the creation of a commission to “review Emory’s management of potential conflicts of interest.” The commission, which will submit a report to Emory President James Wagner, is separate from the university’s internal investigation into conflict-of-interest allegations against Nemeroff.

Nemeroff has denied any wrongdoing, and he voluntarily stepped down as chairman of the psychiatry department pending the results of the investigation.

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