Pediatric Drug Researcher to Cut Ties with Pharmaceutical Companies

Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dr. Joseph Biederman has agreed to curb his interaction with pharmaceutical companies while the hospital investigates charges that Biederman’s dealings with the drug firms may be a conflict of interest. Biederman, known for his aggressive endorsement of Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal and his $1.6 million undisclosed salary from drug companies, agreed to curb his involvement in drug trials and other entanglements with the pharmaceutical industry.
Late last year, a US Senate review of the pharmaceutical industry’s ties to doctors and researchers discovered the payments to Biederman and questioned his objectivity in promoting certain drugs for children. Embarrassed by the public disclosure, Mass General quickly took steps to begin an investigation of its own. Officials at the highly regarded New England hospital questioned Biederman’s objectivity in his research and openly criticized the financial arrangements. According to hospital officials, there are concerns that Biederman was more interested in promoting Risperdal on behalf of his benefactor than objective scientific research.
According to an article in the Wall St. Journal, “In its statement, Massachusetts General said Dr. Biederman would stop industry-funded activities at the hospital until its review was completed. Hospital spokeswoman Peggy Slasman said that would mean Dr. Biederman would discontinue his participation in several industry-funded clinical trials there. The hospital declined to describe the studies, which it said would continue under a different doctor.
Dr. Biederman also agreed not to participate in “any outside activities that are paid for or sponsored by industry, such as consulting activities or speaking engagements,” the hospital said.”
US Senator Charles Grassley has been particularly vigilant in investigating drug industry and medical device industry ties to researchers and doctors whose research the public and other physicians rely for prescribing medicines and medical devices for their patients. Senator Grassley correctly grasps that the integrity of the healthcare system is at stake when conflictual relationships exist between researchers and medical industries.