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Scientist admits conflict of interest

Under a plea deal, the NIH researcher would pay the government $300,000, the amount he received from Pfizer.

December 9, 2006
Saturday Part A; Pg. 21


A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health who took about $300,000 in unauthorized payments from a drug company pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge that he committed a criminal conflict of interest. The admission by Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III came after years of denials by his attorneys and six months after the scientist had asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination to a congressional subcommittee. The prosecution was the first of an NIH scientist under federal conflict-of-interest laws in 14 years. Sunderland, 55, admitted that he failed to get required authorization for taking $285,000 in consulting fees and $15,000 in expense payments from the drug company Pfizer Inc. from 1998 to 2003.During the same period, he provided Pfizer with spinal-tap samples collected from hundreds of patients as part of a research collaboration approved by the NIH. After the hearing Friday, U.S. Atty. Rod J. Rosenstein told reporters that Sunderland's actions were a breach of the publictrust. "This case is not about an honest mistake," Rosenstein said. "If a government employee is actually on the payroll of a company that benefits from its dealings with the United States, there's a chance that that employee's financial interest will affect his or her official actions." Sunderland, who joined the NIH in 1982 and headed its geriatric psychiatry branch, answered in even tones more than two dozen questions from U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz. Afterward, Sunderland's eyes welled as he embraced his teenage son. A plea agreement calls for Sunderland to pay the government the $300,000 he took from Pfizer, perform 400 hours of community service, and submit to two years of probation. Motz set sentencing for Dec. 22. Federal guidelines give the judge discretion to impose up to ayear in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for Sunderland's violation, a misdemeanor. However, the judge reviewed the plea deal privately with Sunderland's lawyers and with federal prosecutors before the Friday hearing, and those familiar with the case said they did not expect a harsher sentence. Under the collaboration with Pfizer, Sunderland's staff provided Pfizer with spinal-tap samples they had collected from patients who had Alzheimer's disease or were at risk of developing it. Drug companies prize the material because it could contain genetic clues for finding a breakthrough treatment. Sunderland at no point from 1998 to 2003 sought permission from his NIH bosses to take the personal payments from Pfizer, and he didnot disclose the income on annual financial reports. Sunderland did not address reporters Friday. His lawyer Robert F.Muse declined to comment. Unaddressed at the hearing was how the guilty plea might affect Sunderland's employment. An NIH spokesman in Bethesda, Md., said Sunderland remained a federal employee.

david.willman @latimes.com

Promoting Openness, Full Disclosure, and Accountability http://www.ahrp.org

The Los Angeles Times reports that Dr. Trey Sunderland III, who headed Alzheimer's research at NIMH, pleaded guilty to criminal conflicts of interest. The prosecution was the first of an NIH scientist under federal conflict-of-interest laws in 14 years. Ironically, NIH scientists are so embedded that the LAT reports, it is uncertain "how the guilty plea might affect Sunderland's employment. An NIH." An NIH spokesman said "Sunderland remained a federal employee."

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
veracare @ahrp.org

Informant: rafeswhiterose


Re: A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health


Re: A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health

Dear Robert: I agree with your comments/questions......

It sure would be interesting to learn the facts surrounding the original Merck patent [ http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2003/12/13/s tatin_drugs_coenzyme_q10_depletion.htm ] that provided for a combination of statin and vital Coenzyme Q-10.

I have mentioned before that EMF-EMR, low level, chronic prolonged exposure (toxic) also lowers one's Coenzyme Q-10 as well as Melatonin.

There is evidence that low level EMF-EMR, low level, chronic prolonged exposure (toxic) also interferes with absorption of folic acid and B-vitamins.

My two "best friends" died in the past couple of years from congestive heart failure -- they both took statins. As I mentioned before, one spent a lot of time cooking while standing in front of an electric clock that was mounted on the handle of her expensive stove. The other friend had been sleeping (head level) with a transformer/power supply box for cordless phone right behind her head -- the new "senior citizen recommendations" re placement of electric outlets midway up the wall so seniors won't fall while plugging things in, etc.

Even Vitamin C can become a free radical if a person sleeps close to electrical items!!! Dr. Russel Reiter in his book, "Melatonin" mentions this is well known re Vitamin C and radiation treatments. There are many studies that confirm biological changes are identical when comparing findings re low level ionizing radiation with low level nonionizing radiation. When these "biological changes" occur as result of radiation treatments, the treatments are stopped. The "reason" is, of course, because the individual will get sicker and perhaps die if such treatments aren't closely monitored. For scientists to continue to insist that "adverse biological changes" do not indicate "adverse health effects," is totally insane.

Then (as you know), we have my husband, Bud, who is now said not to have Alzheimers afterall. He has been, however, seriously affected by taking statins and sleeping close to an electric clock radio. Fortunately he can now go for walks again (muscle improvement) but his memory problems remain moderate to severe more than 17 months after moving the clock radio and discontinuing statins (in spite of documented improvement in 3-4 areas of his Executive Function tests). I am planning on suing Pfizer for their part in promoting a product they know without question will cause serious harm. As of now, the harm in regard to memory problems is approaching "catastrophic numbers!!!"

I am always glad to see your challenges of "the powers that be......." These are crimes of the highest level -- for now I am withholding comments re all of the children who still develop Leukemia that can be prevented and countless other health problems. Take care - Joanne

Joanne C. Mueller Guinea Pigs R Us
731 - 123rd Avenue N.W. Minneapolis, Minnesota 55448-2127 USA Phone: 763-755-6114 Email: _jcmpelican@aol.com_ (mailto:jcmpelican@aol.com) (12-16--06)

"The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity........" -- Mahatma Gandhi



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