Sunday, May 28, 2006

Psychiatrist Tonmoy Sharma - Infamy, infamy! They've all got it in for me!

A professor who taught at one of Britain's most prestigious medical institutes while appearing regularly as an expert on the BBC online, has been accused of being a fraud and has a warrant out for his arrest.

Tonmoy Sharma, who was a senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, is accused of deceiving the NHS and some of the world's largest drug firms, and lying about his academic credentials.

Sharma, who denies all the claims, is being accused by the pharmaceutical companies' trade body of taking part in wide-ranging research fraud involving tests of powerful drugs on schizophrenic patients.

He says the drug firms have targeted him as 'a scapegoat' to cover their own failures and protect people in the industry.

He also believes he is the victim of academic rivals jealous of his success.

The high-profile dispute is to come before the General Medical Council (GMC) in September. It will be embarrassing for the medical and academic establishments and raise questions about how UK drug trials are conducted.

At one stage Sharma was offered the chair of psychiatry at University College London, and over a period of years from 1996 he was paid hundreds of thousands of pounds by drugs giants such as Novartis and Sanofi to conduct trials of anti-psychotic drugs on patients with schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.

Insider's view: Roll on September. This will be a juicy case!

Who knows what dirty laundry will have been washed in public by then.

More here in The Observer


Anonymous said...

One stiff letter from Cherie Booth to the Institute of Psychiatry certainly helped them to see the wisdom of withdrawing their own allegations against Dr Sharma a few years ago. Great value for money for him and good for the mortgage repayments, but perhaps not fantastic for the reputation of the institution once the inevitable truth came out. Thankfully, Industry is just so much harder to blackmail.

Anonymous said...

Information for our non-UK readers.

Cherie Booth is both a lawyer and the wife of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"Infamy, infamy! They've all got it in for me" is a line from a movie (Carry on Cleo).

PharmaGossip has had a lot of "hits" from the Institute of Psychiatry!


Anonymous said...

No matter how much he denies but this person is guilty. His greed has made him to do all this!!!! Always looking around to fool people.

Anonymous said...

I see that he is caring for a sick relative back in the old country.

Can this really be the man that I studied with at City Poly in the 90s??????

Anonymous said...

This guy was a complete charlatan. His knowledge and understanding of the research he was involved with, and ostensibly leading, was entirely superficial, and one only needed scratch the surface to expose that, as was painfully demonstrated on many occasions. He was simply a TV wannabe, and eyed with much envy the position of Mr. TV psychiatrist held by Raj Persaud, a guy he despised through pure jealousy, but was in reality, a very similar mould to himself. Interesting then to see that Persaud also got caught out, with evidence of blatant plagiarism published in national newspapers, along with Persaud’s contempt of the original author’s attempts to resolve the problem. Any spin Sharma could get to interest the media for maximum impact was always number 1 priority, irrespective of whether it meant compromising the scientific credibility of the work, and hence completely misleading the public. I don't know anyone at the Institute of Psychiatry who employed staff to work full-time on PR and media ingratiation, but Sharma did. You would imagine his staff were treated with the utmost respect, given the precariousness of his position, being utterly dependent on their knowledge, their ideas and their scientific skills. But of course, this wasn't at all the case. He treated everyone with whom he came into contact with the same contempt: as the mere stepping stones he saw them as. From his secret marriage and subsequent divorce, to his duplicity with the pharmaceutical industry, this was a guy who could never be trusted on his word, and was always going to be caught in the end. I’m among many to be relieved to be talking about him in the past tense. I can't be more happy that he was eventually caught out, and I eagerly await sentencing.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that Persaud had been 'caught out' for anything, although anyone who allows people to publicly describe her or himself as a 'clinical psychologist' when they are not is a tad suspect, IMO.

As to your description of Tonmoy, gosh things have changed. As a student in neurophysiology he always seemed courteous and friendly. I've told another co student (there were not many of us on this course) about his current predicament, and this person is as surprised as I am.

PR? Letters from dahling Cherie baby to the Institute? What strange things human beings are, but that's why we study human beings, at the macular and at the molecular level. The majority of sheep in the middle feel a need for protection from the wolves who constitute outliers. ;-)

Anonymous said...

This is really easy to slag people off on isn't it, whilst being in the safety of being anonymous. I'll stand behind an anonymous moniker whilst accusing whoever made the 12:02 comment is a complete fucking imbecile who is also another wannabe TV Psychiatrist and is using this whole thing as an excuse to promote themselves. It's probably not true, but if you're going to make wild accusations you've gotta take some too.

AS said...

I have no clue whether or not Sharma is guilty of whatever he is charged with, and also await for further developments with this story. Its a sad development for a man who combined a strong work ethic (one of the strongest I have seen in my subsequent academic career), and a keen insight.

When I was a student in his section (towards the end of his time at the Institute) he always treated me with courtesy and respect. He was very supportive in providing advice and guidance in my future career and that of several of my colleagues.

That said, even though I did not recieve any of the contempt mentioned by the poster above, its not to say it may not have happened. I vividly remember him not "suffering fools gladly". Work that was considered sub-standard was NOT looked kindly upon and neither were those predisposed to gossip.(Perhaps this is where the previous anonymous commentator may have fallen afoul of Sharma?)

What also struck me was how many of his fellow academic colleagues at the IOP were keen to make comments about him wanting to emulate Raj Persaud. I guess if you are an Asian, spectacle-wearing psychiatrist that has some media exposure you present an easy target for certain lazy comparisons.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that academia is so competitive that we can't post our comments openly.

Dr. Sharma was always courteous and charming, but I never worked with him. The leadership at the Institute of Psychiatry was never vigilant of ethical standards in research, and many charlatans have profited from that lack of scruple. While Dr. Sharma's misdeeds impact patients in the short-term, the lack of ethical conduct at the Institute of Psychiatry (due to stolen ideas and credit by senior faculty, failure to mentor juniors, general maltreatment of junior scientists, sexual harassment) have a long term impact for patient care because talented scientists are not being encouraged to do their best in this contaminated academic culture. Dr. Sharma was the norm there and a full investigation and opportunity to blow the whistle needs to be instigated.