Two weeks ago, we posted a blog about a case involving a researcher who failed to report ties to the maker of a drug he favorably reviewed in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association. Today, that researcher charges that the neuroscientist who exposed his ethics violation failed to report his own "preconceived biases."
Robert Robinson, a psychiatrist at Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, breached JAMA's conflict of interest policy last year by failing to report his connection to Lexapro manufacturer Forest Laboratories in a study highlighting the supposed benefits of the drug for preventing depression in stroke victims. Now he is suggesting that Jonathan Leo, a neuroscientist at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., had an "ideological agenda" when he brought the violation to light in a letter published last month on the Web site of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
In a letter posted today on the BMJ Web site, Robinson balks that Leo has served as a board member for the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), which Robinson says is "strongly opposed to the blanket use of psychopharmacological treatments."
On its Web site, the ICSSP explicitly says that it's "not against the use of psychoactive drugs," but notes that "the diagnosing and prescribing of psychiatric medications often takes place in the false belief, propagated by the highly profitable drug companies, that only good can ensue." Leo told The Wall Street Journal that he doesn't oppose all psych meds and that he resigned from the board two years ago.
Any suggestion that Leo's relationship with the non-profit group is relevant to Robinson's case is "absurd," says Jerome Hoffman, a professor of medicine and emergency medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles who has studied conflicts of interest in medical research.
"All Dr. Leo did was point out the facts," he says. "JAMA has a rule. Robinson violated it."
Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr