Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WSJ: Surgeon Didn't Disclose Company Ties

... a sweet news item ...
"UCLA Says Surgeon Didn't Disclose Company Ties


A top surgeon at the University of California at Los Angeles has lost his position as executive director of its spine center and faces an investigation by the school into his research after allegedly failing to disclose he was being paid by several companies whose products he was studying.

Between 2002 and 2008, Jeffrey Wang repeatedly failed to report on forms filed with the state and with the medical school that he was receiving consulting payments, stock options and royalties from five companies on whose products he was conducting research, according to the university. The failure to report these relationships "violated university guidelines," the school said.

"UCLA regrets that in the case of Dr. Jeffrey Wang, associate professor of orthopedic surgery, a pattern of non-disclosure could have persisted without our knowledge," the school said in a statement. "We are committed to examining our processes to determine how, as an institution, we will prevent similar problems in the future."

Dr. Wang didn't return a telephone call to his office seeking comment. He remains on the school faculty.

Dr. Wang was removed as co-executive director of the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center. A university spokeswoman said the school is considering further sanctions against him.

The university also has appointed a committee to investigate Dr. Wang's work and determine whether the payments from companies affected his research and "if there are any mitigating actions needed to ensure the integrity of the research results." UCLA said it would make the results of that inquiry public, but that so far it has not found evidence of research misconduct. His research involved studying the products in both animals and humans.

UCLA alleges that Dr. Wang failed to disclose financial interests in connection with research projects sponsored by DePuy Spine Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson, which paid Dr. Wang $125,900 in royalty and consulting payments from 2002 through 2008; Facet Solutions Inc., a company in which Dr. Wang acquired options for 18,000 shares in 2004; Paradigm Spine LLC, an entity related to another company in which Dr. Wang received options for 20,000 shares; FzioMed Inc., which paid Dr. Wang $144,000 from 2002 through 2008; and medical-device maker Medtronic Inc., which paid Dr. Wang $275,000 in royalty and consulting payments from 2003 through 2008.

In the case of Medtronic, Dr. Wang did report some, but not all payments from the company, according to the school.

Dr. Wang published at least two favorable evaluations of Oxiplex, a product from FzioMed to prevent spinal adhesions. In 2004, he was the author of a study published in Neurosurgical Focus that found Oxiplex "easy to use and safe." That study noted FzioMed provided funding for the study, but didn't cite the payments to Dr. Wang.

A 2008 abstract published in the Spine Journal by Dr. Wang and a co-author found "consistent clinically significant improvement in outcomes resulting from the use of Oxiplex gel in lumbar spine surgery." While the abstract doesn't indicate Dr. Wang had a financial relationship with FzioMed, he is listed as a consultant to the company elsewhere in the journal.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee in July 2008 voted against approving Oxiplex for sale in the U.S. because it wasn't convinced the product was effective.

Most medical schools require doctors to report financial relationships and often have rules limiting how much they can receive from companies whose products are being studied. But medical schools often have difficulty verifying whether financial information filed by doctors is accurate.

A handful of states, including Massachusetts and Minnesota, have instituted public-reporting requirements in which drug and medical-device companies must disclose payments to physicians for many kinds of services, including consulting.

Two U.S. senators, Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democrat Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, are pushing for a federal law that would require companies to report payments to doctors of more than $100."

WSJ -What s doctor did that was worth $1M

This is just a little gator - cleaning up the whole swamp will be a big job.