Psychiatry’s most powerful and influential key opinion leaders who belong to the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) have been caught off guard. The ACNP leadership is scrambling to overcome the scorn it has received following public disclosure about multiple breaches of ethics and professional standards of conduct.
The College and its journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, have become the butt of derisive jokes–on the order of FEMA during Katrina.
Failure to disclose conflicts of interest is but one aspect of this public outing about commercial activities that pass as science in psychiatry.
In the court of public opinion, both the journal and the College are on trial.
Questions arise about what peer review standards (if any) do articles published in Neuropsychopharmacology undergo?
One might ask, what percentage, if any, of the articles in Neuropsychopharmacology are legitimate–what percentage are paid-for infomercials passing themselves off as scientific reports?
ACNP president, Dr. Kenneth Davis (president and CED of Mount Sinai, NYC, and its Dean of the Medical School) wistfully said he hopes the new editor will be "relatively free of industry relationships."
Implicit in that statement is the recognition that the ACNP is unlikely to chose a new editor who is entirely free of industry relationships.
Sorry, Dr. Davis, you and your colleagues at the ACNP are missing the point:
just as it is not possible to claim that one is only "a little bit pregnant;" it is also not possible to claim impartiality and objectivity–as is required of scientists–if the scientist is not completely free of industry relationships.
For those who missed the investigative report by David Armstrong, in The Wall street Journal, and the editorial in The New York Times, see:
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Volume 313, Number 5791, Issue of 01 September 2006 page 1217
Flap Claims Journal Editor
The editor of Neuropsychopharmacology will relinquish his post following a stir over his failure to list commercial ties in a July article about a new treatment for depression on which he was primary author (Science, 4 August, p. 598 <http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/313/5787/598a> ). Charles Nemeroff, chair of the psychiatry department at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, last week notified the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), the journal’s publisher, that he would step down when his 3-year term ends in December. "The controversy . continues to detract from our basic mission," says Nemeroff, who was offered a second term in May.
"I cannot recall another time where there has been so much concern among the membership," wrote ACNP president Kenneth Davis in a 27 August letter to members.
Last week, the ACNP Council, which oversees the journal, approved a series of measures to address the issue. These include disclosure by all council
members and their spouses of recent relationships with industry. "Our College . sits on the fault line between academia and industry," wrote Davis, who said he hopes the new editor will be "relatively free of industry relationships."
C2006 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest database, Dr. Charles Nemeroff financial conflicts of interest include:
Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., Reunette W. Harris Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Receives grant/research support from Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Forest, Janssen, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Consultant to Abbott, Acadia, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Meyers-Squibb, Cephalon, Corcept, Cypress, Cyberonics, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Eli Lilly, Merck, Mindsense, Neurocrine, Novartis, Organon, Otsuka, Pharmacia-Upjohn, Sanofi, Somerset, Vela, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Member of speakers bureaus for Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Meyers-Squibb, Eli Lilly, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Organon, Pfizer, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Stockholder for Corcept Therapeutics. (Conference disclosure notes: 41st Annual Meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, December 2002, San Juan, Puerto Rico; On file with CSPI) According the New York Times, Corcept gave Dr. Nemeroff the option to buy 72,000 shares of stock with an estimated market value of over $1 million, for less than $25. Dr. Nemeroff reported owning 60,000 shares of Corcept stock. (New York Times, 8/3/03, p.16) "[Professor Nemeroff] has strong links to, and…held shares in, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. [H]eadlined ‘Boss of bosses’ in the psychiatric journal Ten, which…described him as ‘among the most coveted advisers to the pharmaceutical industry." (The Guardian, 5/21/02) Member of the board of directors for Cypress Biosciences, Inc. (http://www.cypressbio.com/corp/about/bod.jsp; accessed 8/21/03) According to the New York Times, Dr. Nemeroff was paid $36,000 in consulting fees from Cypress in 2002 and had a tentative agreement to receive $100,000 if he helped to market milnacipran, Cypress’s sole drug that is used to treat fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder. (New York Times, 8/3/03, A16) Provided expert testimony on behalf of Eli Lilly during 1991 when the F.D.A. convened an expert panel to weigh claims that Prozac and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause some patients to become suicidal. (New York Times, 8/7/03, A1)