Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sunderland Admits Guilt

From the Washington Post...

"A senior government scientist who was a focus of a congressional probe into conflicts of interest in medical research admitted in federal court yesterday that he improperly failed to disclose payments of $285,000 he received as a consultant for the pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer Inc.

Pearson "Trey" Sunderland III, who was chief of the Geriatric Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, pleaded guilty in Baltimore to a misdemeanor charge of violating conflict-of-interest rules...

The criminal prosecution of a researcher for violating conflict-of-interest rules is a rarity. But Sunderland's consulting arrangements, which first surfaced in 2004, were among the most egregious of the possible conflicts detailed during the probe by a congressional subcommittee."

"But members of Congress said yesterday that they found it disturbing that even after his guilty plea, Sunderland remains in his federal job, where he is a member of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

"The question now becomes: Will the National Institutes of Health and the Commissioned Corps finally move to terminate Dr. Sunderland's assignment?" Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) asked in a statement. "Is a criminal guilty plea enough to, at long last, remove Dr. Sunderland from NIH?"

Gee, Bart, asking for accountability? That seems a bit harsh. A slap on the wrist should do just fine.

Of course, Sunderland HAD to be involved in psychiatry. At least he is not alone, as I've documents several other instances of ethically strange and/or scientifically dubious behavior occurring in the mental health profession over the past few months.

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