Grassley Ups Total of Undisclosed Fees Paid to Prof by Glaxo

Grassley Ups Total of Undisclosed Fees Paid to Prof by Glaxo

May 14, 2009, 12:46 PM ET
By Alicia Mundy

The congressional heat is intensifying on the University of Texas regarding disclosure of payments from Glaxo to UT psychiatry professor Karen Wagner. A new letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley to UT warns that Wagner didn’t report outside money she got from GlaxoSmithKline when she was working on a federally funded study on the antidepressant Paxil’s effects on teenagers.

As the WSJ disclosed in September, Wagner didn’t report to the university some $150,000 in funds such as speakers fees received from Glaxo, according to Grassley. She also got a trip to Paris from the company.

Now Grassley has upped the ante. In his latest letter, the Iowa Republican says that the amount Wagner didn’t report may be as high as $230,000. The university’s counsel told the Dallas Morning News last week that it has been investigating Wagner for two weeks -— though it got the first letter on the issue eight months ago.

In Grassley’s latest missive, he told UT and its board of regents that he is reporting Wagner’s apparently undisclosed financial ties with Glaxo to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. He also wrote that after his September letter, the “Texas System provided me with more information regarding Dr. Karen Wagner’s lack of transparency in reporting her outside income.”

The senator continued that in a March 9 letter, the “Texas System informed me that they were never aware of any discrepancies regarding Dr. Wagner’s reporting of income from GSK. The Texas System also informed me that they would undertake an investigation of any discrepancies in Dr. Wagner’s reports.”

Grassley has criticized numerous other researchers and their universities for their disclosures about corporate payments as well.

Wagner is the vice chairman of the psychiatry department at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and at one point, served on the school’s conflict-of-interest committee. A spokesman for UTMB Galveston said Ms. Wagner wasn’t available to comment.

If her outside funds weren’t reported to the National Institutes of Health, which funded the Paxil study, it could create problems for UT in getting future NIH grants. The school has received more than $5 billion in NIH funds since 2000.

About the author


Jeffry John Aufderheide is the father of a child injured as a result of vaccination. As editor of the website he promotes well-educated pediatricians, informed consent, and full disclosure and accountability of adverse reactions to vaccines.