The blogosphere has been abuzz with discussion of psychiatrist Alan Schatzberg's dual roles as a tycoon and an allegedly "objective scientist." But wait... there's more. Schatzberg is deeply involved with Corcept Therapeutics, a company that has repeatedly found that mifepristone (Corlux/RU-486) is a dud for psychotic depression. Yet Corcept has continually attempted to spin the results as positive, in a manner that should be obvious to anyone who passed an introductory research methods or statistics course. Schatzberg has millions of dollars in Corcept shares and should Corcept actually turn out to possess even minimal efficacy for psychotic depression, Schatzberg stands to profit quite handsomely.
Bernard Carroll has the next chapter in this interesting saga, dealing particularly with Stanford University's claim that Schatzberg was not involved in "managing or conducting any human subjects research" using Corlux. Such a claim is essentially saying that because of his financial connections with Corcept, Schatzberg avoided tight involvement with the studies of the drug so that he could avoid a conflict of interest. Dr. Carroll, however, notes that it seems very likely Schatzberg was indeed involved in Corlux research.
There is reason to believe that Dr. Schatzberg had a key role in Stanford’s clinical trials of Corcept’s drug reported in 2001, 2002, and 2006. He was a co-author on all three publications, and there was no disclaimer about his role until 2006. This disclaimer is hardly credible. As Principal Investigator on the NIH grants, Dr. Schatzberg was expected to supervise the junior faculty and research staff at Stanford who recruited, assessed, and treated patients in the studies of RU 486. He was responsible for the choice of outcome measures, about which questions have been raised. He was responsible for the quality of the reported data analyses, which were, frankly, inexpert, when they were provided at all. Above all, he was responsible for the tone of the NIH-supported Stanford publications that claimed Corcept’s drug is effective.
That's just a tidbit -- there is much more to the story, and it should be read immediately at Health Care Renewal. Keep in mind that Schatzberg is the president of the American Psychiatric Association. You may then choose to giggle or cry -- your choice.