Report: Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Jose Baselga Resigns Following Industry Ties Investigation

Jose Baselga

Following the resignation of a top breast cancer expert at one of the nation’s most prestigious cancer hospitals due to his failure to disclose payments from the drug industry, a medical ethics expert said a larger conversation about such financial relationships between doctors and industry is needed.

Matthew McCoy, a medical ethics expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the focus on Dr. Jose Baselga’s failure to disclose his financial interests is understandable due to their potential as a source of bias and the professional obligation to report them, especially given his status not only as a scientist but as a leader of a major medical organization. “That said, I think we get too hung up on the question of disclosure,” McCoy wrote in an email. “It’s a necessary and important step, but disclosure alone doesn’t eliminate the threat of bias.” He said his hope was that it would spark a broader conversation about when and under what conditions it is appropriate for physicians and researchers – who usually are already well-compensated – to take on outside financial interests that post a risk to their professional judgment.

The New York Times and ProPublica reported Thursday that Baselga, chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, had left his position, writing in a letter that he was concerned the issue would distract him from his role in overseeing care at the hospital.

MSKCC did not respond to a request for comment.

As part of a joint investigation, the two news outlets had reported last Saturday that Baselga did not disclose payments from drug companies despite rules requiring that he do so that are set by the American Association for Cancer Research, for which he had served as president. He had failed to disclose the financial ties in journals like Cancer Discovery, which the AACR publishes, along with The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, including $3 million in payments over several years from Swiss drugmaker Roche. Baselga called the lapses unintentional, though MSKCC said he had properly informed it of his industry relationships, nevertheless telling employees to “do a better job” reporting such ties.

According to ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs database, Baselga received nearly $3.4 million from the industry over the course of four years from companies like Roche, Novartis, Eli Lilly & Co., Hexal, Celgene and AstraZeneca. These included investments or ownership stakes, consulting fees and payments for food, beverages, travel and lodging, according to the site.

Photo: Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

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Source : https://medcitynews.com/2018/09/report-memorial-sloan-ketterings-jose-baselga-resigns-following-industry-ties-investigation/

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