University says it will no longer accept payments from drug company


— The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga announced Friday it will not accept drug company payments for new drug trials, a decision that could affect the state’s largest university.

The decision is the latest in a series of moves by the University of Texas to curb the influence of corporate interests in university science, a move that has put Tennessee’s flagship university at the center of a national debate about corporate influence in the U.S. medical and pharmaceutical industries.

In a statement, the university said it had decided to halt research funding for two new drug development programs.

The university said the decision came after a recent investigation by the university’s governing board found that drug company Pfizer and its subsidiaries had been involved in “inappropriate business practices” in connection with the development of a drug that treats rare genetic disorders in patients with genetic abnormalities.

In addition to its decision to halt drug-related funding, the University said it would “conduct an independent review of the program.”

The University of California system also said Friday it was halting funding to two companies, one of which is owned by a major pharmaceutical company.

The university said its board has been in contact with Pfizer.

It’s unclear whether the universities actions were related to the findings of the university investigation or to the ongoing federal probe.

The investigation of Pfizer, which was launched last year, has resulted in more than 100 subpoenas being issued and lawsuits being filed in federal courts, and it’s possible more could come.

In recent months, a group of scientists led by University of Chicago-Chicago professor David Nutt has raised concerns about the drug-makers’ ability to develop new drugs.

They also have called for greater transparency in the process and for drugmakers to disclose payments to universities for research grants.

A federal judge in Atlanta issued a temporary restraining order last month that blocked the drug company from collecting fees for conducting research and to collecting payments from university institutions, and the judge said that Pfizer had violated a court order by failing to turn over any records.