Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bipolar Child Key Opinion Leader: I Get Money

As reported on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, Dr. Melissa DelBello's tight financial ties to AstraZeneca are again under scrutiny. This should come as no surprise to my readers, as I noted in March that, in 2003-2004, DelBello had been the recipient of $180,000 from AstraZeneca (makers of Seroquel). I gleaned this information from results of an investigation by Senator Charles Grassley. The WSJ Health Blog noted that Grassley's investigation has continued, revealing that:
DelBello, who also has received NIH grants, also reported $100,000 in outside income between 2005 and 2007. But when Grassley asked AstraZeneca directly, the total value of its payments to DelBello during those three years came to $238,000.
So she claimed initially that she received $100k from 2005-2007, but she actually pulled in $238k from a single company and who knows how much from other outside entities. In fact, it is clear that DelBello has received funding from several other corporate interests. To quote her disclosure from a continuing medical education exercise:
Dr. DelBello has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer: Consultant; AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer: Speakers’ Bureau; and Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, and Shire: Research Support Recipient.
But wait, there's more! According to Grassley's investigation, DelBello has also established a company for "personal financial purposes." The company is called MSZ Associates and AstraZeneca put $60,000 in the coffers of the company. The address of MSZ Associates, according to Grassley, is the University of Cincinnati Department of Psychiatry (where DelBello works).

Again, as I've said earlier, I don't know Dr. DelBello, but from this information, I do indeed feel comfortable nominating her for a Golden Goblet Award. For background, read here and here. PharmaGossip's interesting visual representation of the situation can be seen here.

This is how one sets out to become a key opinion leader. DelBello quite likely has a mortgage and bills to pay, but is this confluence of commercial and academic interests really the best we can do for our patients?

Being a key opinion leader has one pleasant side effect: You Gets Mad Money.

(Warning: Video contains adult language)

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