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Do We Need An Arbiter?

Earlier this week I reported that Dr. Allen Taylor who ran the Abbott vs. Merckcholesterol drug study, which Abbott's drug Niaspan won, would only say that ABT has paid him more than $10,000 in lecture and consulting fees. But he wouldn't be any more specific than that.

At "The HealthCare Channel," Dr. Steven Greer, who's been highly critical of Dr. Taylor's so-called Arbiter study, kept digging. That apparently prompted a spokesperson at the Washington Hospital Center, where Dr. Taylor is the director of Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging, to issue this statement, which the spokesperson later emailed to us:

"Allen Taylor, MD, has disclosed all lecture fees received from Abbott while employed at Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Taylor has consistently disclosed this information and has fully complied with the Hospital Center's conflict of interest policy. The fees collected in the 2009 calendar year have been donated to two established medical-related scholarship funds."

Does saying, "I've received more than $10,000" qualify as a disclosure of "all lecture fees?" I added the emphasis. I asked the hospital spokesperson if she could tell me how much money Dr. Taylor donated. The answer was, "No." When did Dr. Taylor make the scholarship donations? This week? If he made them before then, why didn't he just say that when I twice asked him about it last Friday and Sunday? For example, Dr. Steven Nissen at The Cleveland Clinic is quite open about the fact that he and his wife donate whatever industry money he gets.

Rob Stephan emailed Pharma's Market to say, "While I do not think you were rude, obnoxious or anything like that in your questions, I do believe Dr. Taylor has a right to deny the exact answers due to privacy concerns. Do you disclose your exact salary? May I have a copy of your tax returns?"

Uh, no, you may not. What I can and should tell you is that CNBC policy prohibits me and anyone who lives under the same roof from owning individual stocks. Even before that policy was implemented several years ago, I was required to divest all of the pharma-related stocks in my then-portfolio shortly after I was put on this beat. GE/NBC Universal pays my salary and it's our editorial policy to always disclose the corporate ownership/relationship when necessary. I don't do clinical research. But as I have revealed here and on air before, I have taken 10mg of Lipitor for several years.

In an unscientific Pharma's Market blog survey, readers say by nearly a two-to-one margin that Dr. Taylor and Abbott should cough up the exact dollar figure.

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