TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Indeed, That Might Suggest a Teensy-Weensy Conflict of Interest

An NIH worker pleaded guilty to charges relating to a small moderate rather huge bunch of payments
from Pfizer.

Sunderland, 55, admitted to entering consulting agreements with the drugmaker beginning in 1998 without receiving the required approval in advance or disclosing his income after the fact. Sunderland was paid as a consultant on two projects in which his department was collaborating with Pfizer on research to identify chemical warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.

He will pay back the $285,000 he received plus some expenses.  The government is asking for probation.  Sunderland remains on the job, though lawmakers are urging NIH to change that.  Since NIH does not approve drugs (as noted, it was collaborating with Pfizer on these issues), there are no allegations of improper regulatory decisions that I've seen.

Ten other NIH scientists have been referred for possible prosecution.

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