Emory Orders Pharma-Critic Prof. to Remove School's Name From His Blog

Last Updated Jul 7, 2009 8:52 AM EDT

Emory University, the institution at the center of a Congressional inquiry into undisclosed drug company payments to academics, has asked one of its professors to remove the Emory name from a blog he writes that is often critical of the pharmaceutical industry. J. Douglas Bremner, M.D., professor of psychiatry and radiology at Emory's School of Medicine, wrote in a June 18 post:
I have had official letters of complaint to the Dean of my university and the acting chair of my department and they have asked me to remove the name of my university and letterhead from my blog with which I have complied.
Yesterday, Bremner (pictured) added that Emory's pr department has declined to promote or publish a press release in support of his book ("Before You Take That Pill: Why The Drug Industry May Be Bad For Your Health," Avery/Penguin). He said that was unusual because Emory's pr department usually does this:
Most authors get press releases, their own web page for their book, the works.
It's a strange move by Emory, and seems designed to attract more attention to the troubled university. Emory has been at the center of an inquiry by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, into how drug companies fund academics and their research. That inquiry has found that Emory's Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff:
... earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators.
And, regarding Emory psychiatrist Zachary Stowe:
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) said he learned the school had informed the NIH last summer that Dr. Stowe had financial conflicts of interest. The senator said records he obtained from GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the maker of the antidepressant Paxil, indicated Dr. Stowe was paid $154,400 by the drug company in 2007 and $99,300 during the first 10 months of 2008. The totals included payments for at least 95 promotional talks on behalf of the company.
Here's a theory: Emory's pr department is staffed with geniuses. Knowing that there's no better publicity for a book than a conspiracy against it, they decided not to promote the book and annoy Bremner instead. With a built-in controversy in hand, Bremner can now earn many more headlines than he normally would. It's already working.