Dr. José Baselga, a prominent cancer expert and chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, has resigned amid revelations that he repeatedly failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from healthcare companies to prestigious medical journals in which he published high-profile research articles.
Baselga’s lack of disclosure came to light in a joint investigation by the >New York Times and ProPublica, which was published by the Times on September 8.
Further Reading“I don’t f—ing care”: In wooing $67M from big alcohol, NIH nixed critical studyAs the investigation noted, Baselga had relationships with at least a dozen companies, including board memberships and advisory roles at corporations such as Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Some of those positions required him to assume fiduciary responsibilities to protect those companies’ interests, the Times notes. In presentations and conferences in 2017 and 2018, for instance, Baselga appeared to put an overly positive spin on results of clinical trials sponsored by Roche—without noting in those instances his ties to the company.
From August 2013 to the end of 2017, Baselga received nearly $3.5 million from nine of the companies with which he had ties. Those payments and others were not disclosed in dozens of publications in journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. Baselga also appeared to have violated conflict-of-interest reporting rules of the American Association for Cancer Research while he was president of that organization in 2015 and 2016.
In an initial interview, Baselga made no attempt to deny his disclosure failures. “I acknowledge that there have been inconsistencies, but that’s what it is,” he said. But he said that it was an oversight that didn’t affect the integrity of his work. The inconsistency “is a far cry from compromising my responsibilities as a physician, as a scientist and as a clinical leader,” he said in a statement.
In the days following the Times report, it appeared the issue caused a disruptive stir at MSK, leading to Baselga’s departure. In his resignation letter, he said he feared his continued role would be “too much of a distraction to the hospital.”
“I take full responsibility for failing to make appropriate disclosures in scientific and medical journals and at professional meetings,” he went on to write. “I have already updated disclosures in medical journals and will continue to do so until the record is complete.”
Critics and ethicists say the scandal is just the latest example of a prominent researcher flouting disclosure rules and medical journals and organizations weakly enforcing them. Such situations can lead to bias in the design and interpretation of clinical studies, as well as prescription and medical practices that unduly favor companies.
Source : https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/09/top-cancer-expert-forgot-to-mention-3-5m-industry-ties-he-just-resigned/