Press Release

Obama Should Remove Top Advisor on Bioethics

A top advisor to President Barack Obama on ethical issues in medicine and science should be removed as chairwoman of a presidential commission because of her failure to address ethical lapses on her own campus, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) said this week in a letter to President Obama.

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann lacks the credibility to chair the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and should be removed as chair until she concludes a credible and transparent investigation regarding multiple allegations that one of her faculty members allowed a pharmaceutical company to ghostwrite manuscripts under his name, POGO wrote.

Last November, POGO sent the director of the National Institutes of Health a letter detailing four cases where federally funded researchers allowed a company paid by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to ghostwrite articles for them that were favorable to Paxil, a top-selling antidepresseant sold by GSK.

One of those researchers was Dr. Dwight Evans, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry in Penn’s School of Medicine. Despite this damaging information, Dr. Gutmann did not take action, or even appear to investigate the matter.

More recently, a Penn researcher filed a complaint against Dr. Evans with the federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI), claiming that Dr. Evans and another faculty member stole his research, manipulated it, and allowed GSK to use it in a ghostwritten Paxil article.

"President Obama's top advisor on bioethics is someone who appears to have ignored serious ethical breeches in her own School of Medicine," POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. "Someone in this position should not be comfortable with allowing Big Pharma to pass off marketing as scientific research."

For more information, read:

POGO's letter to President Obama, July 11, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions about ghostwriting, June 28, 2011

POGO's letter to NIH on ghostwriting academics, November 29, 2010