Introduction: As longtime readers can surmise from the headline, this post is about Dr. Charles Nemeroff. And the Dalai Lama. Let's start from the beginning. Nemeroff was featured in a CME activity on Medscape. To view it, you'll need to complete a free registration at Medscape. For those new to the wonderful world of CME, note that while CME stands for continuing medical education, it is more accurate to refer to it as commercial medical education -- it's paid advertising, dare I say cheerleading. It is rather disheartening that physicians who wish to keep their licenses must sit through a bunch of advertisements as opposed to less biased, more educational forms of training. For more on CME in general, read my earlier posts here and here, or check out Daniel Carlat's excellent work (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ).
The Present Story: Nemeroff, in the aforementioned CME activity, discusses the transdermal patch for selegiline, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and how it may serve as a good treatment option for people with depression. Here are a couple of quotes from Nemeroff:
The limited use of oral monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) over the past decade or so has been driven largely by physicians' concerns that they might potentiate hypertensive reactions when they interact with tyramine in foods. A new transdermal system is currently available that enables the MAOI to avoid first-pass metabolism by bypassing the gut, thereby reducing the chance of hypertensive reactions caused by tyramine.
The Pande study, which I believe was done when Pande was at Lilly, compared 20 patients with atypical depression treated with fluoxetine and 20 treated with the nonselective irreversible MAOI, phenelzine. Efficacy was about equal. Certainly other data and my own experience would suggest that MAOIs are superior to SSRIs and TCAs [for atypical depression].
A case that is treated successfully (of course) with transdermal selegiline is discussed during the activity in some depth. All's well that ends well. Clearly, the CME activity backs the use of transdermal selegiline. While it discusses some of the risks associated with MAOI treatment, the program states that the transdermal system avoids many of these issues.
Chuck's Conflicts: Nemeroff lists the following disclosures in the CME activity:
Reunette W. Harris Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
Disclosure: Grants: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Forest Laboratories, Janssen Pharmaceutica, National Institute for Mental Health, Pfizer Inc, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Consultant: Abbott Laboratories, Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Concept Pharmaceuticals, Ltd, Cypress Bioscience, Inc, Cyberonics, Inc, Eli Lilly and Company, Entrepreneur Fund Inc, Forest Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, H. Lundbeck A/S, Ingenix i3 DLN, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc, Pfizer Inc, Quintiles Transnational Corporation, UCB Pharma, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories; Speaker: Abbott Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Pfizer Inc.; Stockholder—Acadia Pharmaceuticals; Corcept Therapeutics, Inc; Cypress Biosciences; NovaDel Pharma Inc.; Board of Directors: American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education, NovaDel Pharma Inc, National Foundation for Mental Health
As you can gather, Nemeroff is a busy guy! According to the above, he is a consultant for 18 drug companies and a speaker for four companies. The plot is about to thicken (or, perhaps, sicken) notably...
The Missing Disclosure: Remember how the above CME was all about pushing a newer, safer MAOI drug for depression? Well, it just so happens that Nemeroff is the co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for CeNeRx, a company that is developing a (you guessed it) newer, safer MAOI drug for depression! Note that Nemeroff did not mention his position with CeNeRx in his disclosure for the Medscape CME activity. Here's what the CEO of CeNeRx had to say about the MAOI they are testing:
In contrast to other MAO inhibitors, our third generation RIMA series is designed to bind selectively and reversibly, with the goal of significantly reducing the cardiovascular risks and other side effects typically associated with the MAOI class. These safety results, along with the high plasma levels and favorable pharmacokinetics demonstrated in the study, support advancing Tyrima into a multiple dose safety study in late spring.
Note the similarity to what was being said about the MAOI patch in the Medscape CME. Let me put this plainly: Nemeroff stumps for an MAOI in a CME activity, yet does not disclose that he is being paid by a company which also manufactures an MAOI. Can you say "hiding a blatant conflict of interest?"
The Dalai Lama: Nemeroff is appearing with His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a presentation on depression at
Golden Goblet: Does this earn Nemeroff a nomination for a Golden Goblet ? I believe so.