Top Sloan Kettering Cancer Doctor Resigns After Failing To Disclose Industry Ties

Dr. Baselga, 59, is an expert in breast cancer research and played a key role in the development of Herceptin, which was developed by Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche. He came to Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2013 after serving as chief of hematology and oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Before that he was a leader at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain.

Medical journals and professional societies have imposed stricter rules about reporting relationships to industry after a series of scandals a decade ago in which prominent physicians failed to disclose payments from drug companies. But medical journals have said they don’t routinely fact-check authors’ disclosures, and much is left to the honor system.

Ethicists say that outside relationships with companies can shape the way studies are designed and medications are prescribed to patients, allowing bias to influence medical practice. Reporting those ties allows the public, other scientists and doctors to evaluate the research and weigh potential conflicts.

Jeffrey S. Flier, who was dean of the Harvard Medical School from 2007 to 2016, said medical leaders should be held to a higher standard.

“The higher you are in the organizational structure, the more important it is that you fulfill those obligations,” he said. “You’re not just another faculty, you’re also a faculty to whom other people look up and your reputation is tied to the institution’s reputation.”

That said, he added, relationships between academic faculty members and the health care industry are essential to developing new drugs.

Dr. Baselga has extensive ties to a range of companies, including sitting on the board of the large pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and serving as a director of Varian Medical Systems, which sells radiation equipment and for whom Memorial Sloan Kettering is a client.

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