March 20, 2009 — 11:05am ET |
By Tracy Staton
The Harvard child psychiatrist who’s been in the news over potential conflicts of interest is now trying to persuade a judge to seal some court documents that detail interactions with Johnson & Johnson. The documents–and his testimony–“could be immensely damaging to him, both personally and professionally,” his lawyers claim.
Dr. Joseph Biederman has become a key witness in a huge lawsuit over the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs in children. The plaintiffs’ lawyers have submitted documents that aim to show how he worked with industry to push the atypicals for off-label uses.
Among the documents is a presentation of “Key Projects,” which includes a planned trial of Risperdal, pitting the J&J drug against rival antipsychotics as a treatment for pediatric bipolar disorder. The trial “will clarify the competitive advantages of risperidone vs. other neuroleptics,” the presentation noted; according to Biederman’s testimony, he prepared the presentation himself. Another presentation promised that a study of J&J’s psychiatric drug Concerta would “extend … positive findings” on the drug to adolescents.
Promising that the trials would benefit J&J–before the trials took place–is just one of the questionable activities attributed to Dr. Biederman. Sen. Charles Grassley announced last year that Biederman had earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drugmakers, but failed to report most of that income to the university.
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