Kent, UK, March 28, 2008
NRI Psychiatrist, Tonmoy Sharma senior lecturer
at the Institute of Psychiatry in London UK ignored guidelines
when testing drugs on volunteers, has been accused of being a
fraud and has a warrant out for his arrest.
According to the General Medical Council (GMC)
hearing, he recruited people in unsolicited telephone calls without
contacting vulnerable patients' psychiatric nurses. The association
- Dr. Sharma failed to obtain proper approval
from ethical committees to conduct a number of major studies.
These approvals are a vital component in any trial to protect
the patients taking part.
- He used the same patients as subjects for a
number of different studies without telling the drug firms,
which had each paid him six-figure sums for what they believed
to be unique research.
The GMC representative said:
Dr Sharma had put mentally unwell patients
at risk and ethical rules had been wilfully flouted.
He gained an international reputation, particularly
in the United States, for the research he was doing.
In spring 2001 he was suspended from the Institute
of Psychiatry after a complaint from drug maker Sanofi over
a study Dr Sharma was undertaking into schizophrenia. He was
reinstated in August 2001.
After the suspension, a picture emerged of
a doctor who knew the rules understanding medical research
but deliberately took short cuts. He was guilty of gross breaches
of the research standards.
- He made untrue statements and eventually the
picture which I submit before you was a man who paid little
more than lip service to ethical rules in research.
He failed to give details about the tests to the
patient or their carers, it is claimed.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical
Industry asked the GMC to examine his conduct two years ago after
concerns that he had failed to obtain proper approval from ethical
committees to conduct the tests.
Dr Sharma pulled in thousands of pounds in research
grants for the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, University
of London, and from pharmaceutical firms wanting research on their
Dr. Sharma is accused of attempting to get data
in a drug trial changed as well as of obtaining a free supply
of the psych drug Clozaril for a study which he subsequently then
sold for tens of thousands of pounds.
Leading drug companies such as Novartis and Sanofi
paid him from 1996 to conduct trials of anti psychotic drugs on
patients with schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Catherine Baxter, a medical adviser to Sanofi
- In 2001, the fraud allegations against him
surfaced when we uncovered alleged financial irregularities
surrounding a £250,000 contract it had awarded Sharma.
- We asked him to conduct a study comparing
the effectiveness of its drug Amisulpride with that of a treatment
from a rival company, Eli Lilly.
Although Baxter believed the study was to be undertaken
at the institute, she became alarmed about a Sanofi cheque for
£65,000 that had been paid to Sharma's company. She also
became 'extremely concerned' that Sharma appeared not to have
received proper ethical approval for the study.
The Company hired private investigators to check
Sharma's research activities. The inquiries were led by Peter
Jay, a former Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector. When
Sharma found out about Jay's investigation he sued him for defamation,
claiming the inquiry had unfairly destroyed his reputation. Sharma
dropped the case last March for what he said were financial reasons.
The Company claim was that Sharma attempted to
get data changed in one study to show that the drug risperidone
worked better against schizophrenia than rival conventional treatments.
He was trained in India and a prominent psychiatrist
who often appeared on the BBC and wrote books on mental illness.
Dr Sharma taught at one
of Britain's most prestigious medical institutes while appearing
regularly as an expert on the BBC online. He referred to himself
as a professor, when he had not finished the PhD thesis he started
at University College, London, in 1989. He was also accused of
lying about his academic background. Sharma, who qualified as
a doctor in India, describes himself as a professor in the media
and in promotional literature for his companies.
He worked as a consultant psychiatrist for the
South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and recruited patients in
Kent and parts of the capital for the research. His position at
the institute helped him secure funding worth close to £1m
from five drug firms. Most of the money was channelled not through
the institute but a private firm he set up called Psychmed. Sharma
claims the institute knew about this arrangement and had approved
Dr. Tonmoy Sharma has fled the UK for from Assam,
India. He failed to answer a summons to appear at Bow Street court
in London last February, and a warrant was later issued for his
Dr. Tonmoy Sharma:
From India, he claimed he had not been aware of
the charge nor of the court hearing. He was in India because he
was caring for his sick father. He said:
- He would be happy to come back to Britain to
- He was looking forward to the GMC hearing as
an opportunity to tell his side of the story publicly and prove
the fault lay with the drug companies.
- When these allegations first surfaced the Institute
of Psychiatry investigated them and exonerated me of any wrongdoing.
Sanofi knew this but decided to blame him for mistakes in its
administrative and research procedures. 'Everything spiralled
- About his academic background, he has a letter
to prove he was invited by a psychiatry professor at Pittsburgh
U to give lectures there as a 'visiting professor'.