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Emory University

NIH Freezes Grants to Emory in Secret Drug Money Scandal

Thursday, April 16, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Emory University, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has halted payments on a research grant to Emory University, following the revelation that the psychiatrist in charge of the research concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug company payments, possibly in violation of university and federal conflict-of-interest rules.

Charles Nemeroff has temporarily stepped down as chair of Emory's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences after Sen. Charles Grassley alleged that the researcher had failed to report a significant portion of the $2.8 million he was paid by GlaxoSmithKline between 2000 and 2007, even as he was leading research into five of the company's drugs.

Although the scandal only became public in recent weeks, the NIH had been aware of it as far back as August, when it froze payment on a $9.3 million grant to Emory's Centers for Intervention Development and Applied Research for a study into different treatments for depression. All payments have been stopped "pending resolution of outstanding issues relating to conflict of interest procedures," said Emory Vice President Ron Sauder.

"Failure to follow NIH standards on conflict of interest is very serious and NIH will take all appropriate action to ensure compliance," the agency said at the time.

The NIH said it will not make any new payments on the grant until Emory has proved that all proper procedures were followed in applying for and administering it. Furthermore, the agency will not issue any grants to Emory University in the future without full disclosure information on any potential conflict of interest for all of the researchers involved. This requirement for an "institutional assurance of compliance" will be unique to Emory.

The NIH provides the majority of Emory's outside research funding, amounting to $251 million this year, or 61 percent.

The agency has not stopped payment on any other Emory grants, or told the university to return any of the money already issued.

Sources for this story include: online.wsj.com; www.ajc.com.

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