Monday, November 03, 2008



Charles Nemeroff has been in the news lately, under investigation by Senator Grassley for allegedly violating NIH regulations on conflict of interest and disclosure. The fallout to date includes his severance from several NIH-funded projects at Emory University School of Medicine, a freeze of NIH funding for a major center grant, and his stepping down from Emory’s chair of psychiatry while an internal investigation proceeds. Some amazing documents were released by the Senator. Among other surprises, they contained a scathing critique of a Nemeroff publication by Emory’s Dean Claudia Adkison, and evidence that Dr. Nemeroff tried to get himself off the hook within Emory by smearing third parties and blaming them for harassment. Now that these internal documents have been released by the Senate Committee on Finance and then appeared in The New York Times, Dr. Nemeroff will have even more explaining to do.

The word is finally out. Dr. Nemeroff’s credibility is under a cloud, to say the least, and his influence is rapidly waning. After all, who wants to be associated with a suspect and a loser? In the hardnosed, commercial world of Continuing Medical Education, for instance, the signs are that Dr. Nemeroff is toast. Whereas he once coordinated multi-city traveling CME road shows and a parade of spots on CME websites like Medscape, his profile now is suffering. Go to this Medscape website, for instance. You will find that his current Expert Viewpoint spots are missing, replaced by the message, “This article is temporarily unavailable.”

Well, good for Medscape. They came in for their share of criticism, here and here, a while back. Now they deserve credit for displaying ethical standards. Meanwhile, we are waiting for another company called CME Outfitters to get the message. Dr. Nemeroff is slated to moderate a raft of new programs for this company in the coming weeks, sponsored by corporations like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Ortho-McNeil Janssen. CME Outfitters' logo, after all, is Education with Integrity. Sooner or later the pharmaceutical corporations, like the CME companies, will understand that they are not helping themselves by trotting out a shopworn and sleazy KOL figurehead like Nemeroff for their marketing efforts. And other KOLs who up to now were willing to "wet their beaks" in these CME forums controlled by the Boss of Bosses Nemeroff will now be leery of associating with him.

The fallout continues.
Bernard Carroll


Anonymous said...

"...Now they deserve credit for displaying ethical standards..."

Do they?

I would argue they applied NO ethical standards in either case. They applied the "does the mascot bring 'em in" test. If the mascot is "popular" then use him. If the mascot is "unpopular" then don't use him.

Removal of Nemeroff's "articles" from a website simply means he is more toxic than good for the website; it's a business decision. It does NOT imply that an ethical dimension was put into the calculus. You are too generous to state otherwise.

Nancy Fruge said...

As accredited providers of continuing medical, nursing, and pharmacy education; Medscape has a duty to ensure that the CME/CE activities they provide are free of commercial bias. I commend the Medscape team for responding rapidly to an adverse event in a manner that is in the best interest of the public.

Bernard Carroll said...

Anonymous, at times it can be productive to give someone the benefit of the doubt. After all, motives can be inscrutable and constant cynicism is not a healthy state of mind. Medscape's future behavior will be the key to resolving our difference of perception.

Bernard Carroll