Stanford Professor Under Fire for Duplicitous Grant on Abortion Drug Study

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 30, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stanford Professor Under Fire for Duplicitous Grant on Abortion Drug Study

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 30
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Stanford University and a professor at the prestigious college are coming under fire for not properly monitoring conflicts of interest. Alan Schatzberg, the head of the psychiatry department, has been questioned about a grant involving the abortion drug’s use in treating depression.

Schatzberg owns about $6 million in shares of Corcept Therapeutics, a company studying the use of the dangerous abortion drug mifepristone for treating psychotic depression.

The problem is that Schatzberg stands to gain from the research because he also is also a co-patent holder for the drug, also known as RU 486.

Schatzberg received a federal grant from the National Institutes of Health to oversee the study and the Senate Finance Committee in Congress criticized Stanford officials for not doing more to mitigate the conflict of interest there.

According to a column by Ed Silverman of Pharmalot, Stanford released a statement in response to the criticism saying all conflicts of interest were disclosed to the government.

Schatzberg “has not had responsibility for any aspect of the conduct of the grant’s research related to mifepristone," the university said, but admitting that he is the "principal investigator."

"We would like to underscore that Dr. Schatzberg has not been involved in managing or conducting any human subjects research involving mifepristone, a pharmaceutical that Corcept licenses for the treatment of psychotic major depression," it added.

Despite the university’s argument, NIH’s statement of policy on grants makes it clear that the principal investigator is responsible for managing the research.

Stanford told Phamalot that the university transferred management responsibilities from Schatzberg to someone else and that it disclosed that to NIH, which approved the decision.

Silverman said Phamalot asked NIH to confirm the decision and indicated the agency never provided a direct response.

Dr. Randy O’Bannon, the director of research and education at the National Right to Life Committee, has previously told that nothing would be wrong with the abortion drug if it was originally intended to help patients suffering from other conditions.

"It is the abortion industry’s fixation on its abortifacient properties that caused so much time, energy, and money to be diverted to its destructive capacities, to the killing of unborn children," he said.

The RU 486 abortion drug has been responsible for the deaths of 14 women — the most recent when British teenager Manon Jones died just one week after using the drug.

Eight women in the United States have died from the mifepristone abortion drug, one in Canada, now three in the UK, one in Sweden, and one in France.


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