Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hallowed Halls to...?

A NYT piece by Gardiner Harris tells the upsetting tale of a federal subpoena and three prominent Harvard researchers.

Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens are under Congressional investigation because of their questionable promotion of antipsychotic drugs for children and their highly profitable dealings with drug companies.

“The three researchers have advocated increased use of antipsychotic medicines in children and have accepted lucrative consulting agreements from the drugs’ makers.”

Senator Grassley, who has been looking into conflicts of interest in medicine, learned that all three researchers scrimped when reporting consulting income to Harvard and that Drs. Biederman and Wilens “might have violated federal and university research rules.”

The subpoena, issued by federal prosecutors, was sent to Fletch Trammel, a lawyer who represents a variety of state attorneys general in lawsuits regarding drug makers, fraud and state Medicaid programs.

“Mr. Trammel said he would ‘comply with the subpoena and facilitate the U.S. attorney’s investigation in any way I can.’”

Lawyers for Drs. Biederman, Wilens and Spencer said they were unaware of the subpoena.

– Hat tip to our friend Vera Sharav of Alliance for Human Research Protection.

Click link below for full story by Gardiner Harris.

3 Researchers at Harvard Are Named in Subpoena -


  1. I think the crux of this will be how definitively the released court materials show Biederman, et. al. literally promishing J&J research results before studies are actually done.

    Some of what we've seen re: B. certainly sounds that way. OF course, the argument could me made (and his attorney certainly will) that the prediction was based on his prior knowledge of the medication, and he was confident that that would hold true. It does not mean he goosed the study design to make sure.

    In the mean time, two other issues are interwoven. First, the psychiatrists' alleged/admitted suppression of the truth re: the size of their compensation from companies. The accusation here is pure lie/cover-up.

    And then there is the wider, medical question of using psychotropics in pre-school children, which, in itself, is a medical, not a criminal, debate.

    However, if all these lines can be linked--that Dr. B. et al. were knowingly goosing data in order both to enrich themselves (hiding the extent) ad in a way that they reasonably knew could seriously harm or injure children without appropriate care for that possibility, serious malpractice and potentially criminal penalties may come into play.

  2. I screwed up the joke:

    Q: Why did the guillotine cross the road?

    A: To get a head....

  3. Hey, cut yourself...(eh, sorry). Give yourself some slack!


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