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Medical researcher Accused of 'serious misconduct'

A researcher from the National Institute of Health received over $100,000 from drug companies in unauthorized deals with the firms without reporting the income// according to reports in a newspaper on Sunday.

The actions of Dr. Thomas J. Walsh were noted by NIH last year during an internal review, which concluded that he was guilty of "serious misconduct" which could lead to his dismissal according to reports from the Los Angeles Times.

The review found, "Dr. Walsh has engaged in serious misconduct, in violation of the Department's Standards of Conduct Regulations and federal law and regulation."

Walsh is a senior researcher who has helped lead major clinical trials involving cancer patients. So far no disciplinary action has been taken against him.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee were expected to hold a hearing this week on the NIH's handling of Walsh's case, as well that of another senior researcher at the agency, Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III.

The newspaper reported that Sunderland whose research has focused on Alzheimer's disease, took hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug-company fees without obtaining clearance to do so.

In June, he asserted his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions from a congressional panel.

Attorneys who represent Walsh have written to the NIH's ethics officials, saying that the agency's rules were complicated and they defended their client's motives.

It was reported that Walsh referred questions to NIH press aides, all the while claiming that he had never served as a representative or advocate for any pharmaceutical company.

However the Times reported that the panel of ethicists and lawyers who conducted the review found that Walsh collected $100,970 in fees from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies between 1999 and 2004.

Walsh also led government-sponsor ed research of some of the companies' drugs.


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