|Betreff: Re: A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health|
|Von: Iris Atzmon
|Datum: Sat, 16 Dec 2006 22:22:37 +0200|
----- Original Message -----From: Robert RiedlingerSent: Saturday, December 16, 2006 7:47 PMSubject: A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health
Read below about Dan Krewski,I'd like to know the difference between what Krewski and Repacholi did and what Dr Tery Sunderland did.Regards RobertKrewski is still on the IARC committee representing Canada????The NIH researcher is to pay the government $300,000, the amount he received from Pfizer, in a plea deal.By David Willman
Times Staff Writer
December 9, 2006
BALTIMORE — A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health who took about $300,000 in unauthorized payments from a drug company pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge that he committed a criminal conflict of interest.
The admission by Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III came after years of denials by his attorneys and six months after the scientist had asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination to a congressional subcommittee.
The prosecution was the first of an NIH scientist under federal conflict-of-interest laws in 14 years.
Sunderland, 55, admitted that he failed to get required authorization for taking $285,000 in consulting fees and $15,000 in expense payments from the drug company Pfizer Inc. from 1998 to 2003. During the same period, he provided Pfizer with spinal-tap samples collected from hundreds of patients as part of a research collaboration approved by the NIH.
After the hearing Friday, U.S. Atty. Rod J. Rosenstein told reporters that Sunderland's actions were a breach of the public trust.
"This case is not about an honest mistake," Rosenstein said. "If a government employee is actually on the payroll of a company that benefits from its dealings with the United States, there's a chance that that employee's financial interest will affect his or her official actions."
Sunderland, who joined the NIH in 1982 and headed its geriatric psychiatry branch, answered in even tones more than two dozen questions from U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz. Afterward, Sunderland's eyes welled as he embraced his teenage son.
A plea agreement calls for Sunderland to pay the government the $300,000 he took from Pfizer, perform 400 hours of community service, and submit to two years of probation. Motz set sentencing for Dec. 22.
Federal guidelines give the judge discretion to impose up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for Sunderland's violation, a misdemeanor. However, the judge reviewed the plea deal privately with Sunderland's lawyers and with federal prosecutors before the Friday hearing, and those familiar with the case said they did not expect a harsher sentence.
Under the collaboration with Pfizer, Sunderland's staff provided Pfizer with spinal-tap samples they had collected from patients who had Alzheimer's disease or were at risk of developing it. Drug companies prize the material because it could contain genetic clues for finding a breakthrough treatment.
Sunderland at no point from 1998 to 2003 sought permission from his NIH bosses to take the personal payments from Pfizer, and he did not disclose the income on annual financial reports.
Sunderland did not address reporters Friday. His lawyer Robert F. Muse declined to comment.
Unaddressed at the hearing was how the guilty plea might affect Sunderland's employment. An NIH spokesman in Bethesda, Md., said Sunderland remained a federal employee.
Dan Krewski, of the Mclaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa, is one of Canada's lead scientists for the IARC study.
"This’ll be the largest study of brain cancer ever conducted and will give us the opportunity to really look in detail for small risks with cellular technology."
Krewski has about a million dollars to fund his part of the IARC research.
Most of it came from the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association — the cellphone industry lobby group.
"We originally approached the CWTA through Roger Poirier who at the time was president and CEO of the organization."
Poirier's the man who said studies into the cellphones and cancer risks showed “…no adverse health effects…”
The current head of the association is Peter Barnes. He says the million dollars his lobby group is giving to Krewski's centre has no strings attached.
"I mean we basically sign a cheque every year for five years, we committed to that, and apart from knowing that the money is being used for the research that’s the extent of our involvement."
IARC told Marketplace that Canada is the only one of 13 countries in the study to receive funding directly from the cellphone industry.
Marketplace's research found that the CWTA and its members invested $1 million to help establish the R. Samuel McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa — where Dan Krewski is doing his cellphone research.
Krewski's centre gets the cheques directly from the CWTA. But to get the relationship stamped officially "arm's length," he had to get the deal reviewed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which also threw in $220,000 of government money.
According to IARC guidelines, this funding has to be indirect - so it went through the CIHR. That makes the funding not directly connected to the industry.
The study is not Krewski's only link to the cellphone industry. If you search the web for information about cellphones, you might come across the Wireless Information Resource Centre — paid for by the CWTA.
Krewski chairs the Wireless Information Resource Centre's scientific advisory group. Roger Poirier — former head of the CWTA — administers the web site. Another link between the cellphone scientist and the cellphone lobby: Poirier — the man who negotiated the million dollar deal — is a paid consultant on the big cellphone study for IARC.
When we reached Poirier by phone, he told us his involvement with the cellphone study is minor and purely technical. He didn't want to talk to us on camera.
Krewski described Poirier's involvment as "a liason."
"He puts us in contact with the right people when we need info on technical aspects of cell phones for the WHO study…He doesn't see scientific results, he does not participate in scientific meetings."
A chart we produce for Krewski shows the same names and links popping up frequently.
"I can see how you could get that sort of perception there may be something leading to some sort of complications here, but if you actually look at the roles of the organizations and agencies that you’ve got on your chart and what they’re actually doing, the industry, clearly, both in Canada and internationally, is hands off," Krewski says.
But it wasn't that clear in Europe. The scientists at IARC say the European cellphone industry did try to negotiate more influence over that end of the study.
"So we wanted not only to avoid any bias, but we didn't want to get any involvement with an industry which then doesn't like the results and tries all kinds of things," IARC's Peter Kleihues said.
Kleihues told us industry reps came knocking as the negotiations on the study were happening.
"They wanted to give us the money. They said 'enlarge, do more, you will be happy because we are so much interested, we are under pressure, we would like a bigger and better study,' and we said 'no, it’s not possible, we can’t accept the money.'"
"Yeah, basically we refused until a contract was drawn up that ensured we had no strings attached," research scientist Elisabeth Cardis said.
That means there is still industry funding in Europe, but the money is administered by a third party. In Canada, the industry money goes to Dan Krewski's centre.
"We are trying very hard through various mechanisms to make sure that everything is going well in the countries to review…to see what mechanisms have been set up. We have been preparing declarations of interest for example, we’ve been documenting sources. We’re getting copies of all the contracts. If we feel that any centre has a potential conflict of interest, that centre’s not going to be included in the international analysis," Cardis said.
Cardis adds the connections involved with the Canadian part of the study don't seem to be a conflict of interest to her. But her boss — IARC chief Paul Kleihues — does seem concerned about our findings.
"Well, I think this is a reason for concern. Industry doesn't give you a free lunch usually. That means industry expects something back for any money they do, and I think we must look into this. It's a matter of concern and we must find out if it's sufficient reason to exclude that branch of the study or not."
Kleihues goes on to say that as far as he can see, the Canadian part of the study appears to have been set up carefully, to follow the rules.
As we kept digging, we discovered that not only does the Canadian cellphone lobby pay for a chunk of Krewski's research at the University of Ottawa, it also has an impact on his salary. We learned that the CWTA money unleashes government money that goes towards Krewski's salary. Krewski says these arrangements are all above board.
The head of IARC - Paul Kleihues told us he was reviewing for possible conflicts of interest the contracts people like Krewski had signed. He said no decisions or changes would be made until an IARC meeting in mid-December.