Now this issue has surfaced again. The Wall Street Journal just reported (link here - requires subscription) that "investigators for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in a 26-page report, said a branch chief at the National Institute of Mental Health, Trey Sunderland, had provided to Pfizer more than 3,000 samples of human spinal fluid and plasma, beginning with a 1998 agreement between the NIH scientist and the company." Since this article is not yet available without a subscription, I will quote a bit of it. (A brief United Press International summary is here.)
According to the House report, the samples were NIH property, but 'records and interviews provide reasonable grounds to believe that Dr. Sunderland personally received $285,000 in compensation from Pfizer' for providing the company with access to the samples.Yet another strand of the web of conflicts of interest comes to light. More may be revealed at upcoming hearings of the House committee during which several NIH staff are expected to testify. Perhaps the hearings will reveal where those who received the samples at Pfizer thought they were coming from, given that they knew where Dr Sunderland worked?
The House staff said it had no evidence that Pfizer knew of the 'questionable conduct' of Dr. Sunderland.
A Pfizer spokeswoman said the New York company has been cooperating with the investigation 'because we fully embrace the ideals of transparency and compliance with ethical and business standards. She said, 'We're not aware of any allegations that Pfizer violated any laws, rules or regulations in its relationship with Dr. Sunderland.'
She said the consulting fees paid to Dr. Sunderland were 'reasonable and customary' for a doctor of his 'stature and experience and reflect the fair market value of his services. The payments were also permitted under NIH rules in place at the time.' He no longer consults for Pfizer, she said.