Top Sloan Kettering Cancer Doctor Resigns After Failing to Disclose Industry Ties
which article was reported as well as written in a collaboration with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization.
Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, resigned on Thursday amid reports which he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments through health care companies in dozens of research articles.
The hospital’s chief executive, Dr. Craig B. Thompson, confirmed the resignation.
The revelations about Dr. Baselga’s disclosure lapses, reported by The fresh York Times as well as ProPublica last weekend, have rocked Memorial Sloan Kettering, one of the nation’s leading cancer centers, in recent days. Its top executives scrambled to contain the fallout, including urgent meetings of physician leaders as well as the executive committee of its board of directors.
Dr. Baselga could not be immediately reached for comment.
On Sunday, Dr. Thompson as well as Kathryn Martin, the hospital’s chief operating officer, sent a message to the staff instructing employees to “do a better job” of disclosing their relationships with the drug as well as health care industries.
“The matter of disclosure can be serious,” the executives wrote.
Dr. Baselga, a prominent figure inside entire world of cancer research, omitted his financial ties to companies like the Swiss drugmaker Roche as well as several tiny biotech start-ups in prestigious medical publications like The fresh England Journal of Medicine as well as The Lancet. He also failed to disclose any company affiliations in articles he published inside journal Cancer Discovery, for which he serves as one of two editors in chief.
All told, ProPublica as well as The Times found which Dr. Baselga had failed to report any industry ties in 60 percent of the nearly 180 papers he had published since 2013. which figure increased each year — he did not disclose any relationships in 87 percent of the journal articles he co-authored last year.
In an interview as well as later statement, Dr. Baselga said he planned to correct his conflict-of-interest disclosures in 17 journal articles, including inside fresh England Journal as well as The Lancet. nevertheless he also contended which in dozens of different cases, no disclosure was required because the topics of the articles had little financial implication. He also said his failed disclosures were unintentional as well as should not reflect on the value of the research he conducted.
Dr. Baselga as well as Memorial Sloan Kettering said which he had disclosed his industry relationships to the cancer center.
Those journals, as well as professional societies like the American Society of Clinical Oncology as well as the American Association for Cancer Research, said they were conducting reviews of Dr. Baselga’s disclosure practices after inquiries through The Times as well as ProPublica. Dr. Baselga was president of the A.A.C.R. in 2015 as well as 2016 as well as appears to have violated disclosure rules for reporting conflicts of interest during which period.
A spokeswoman for The fresh England Journal, Jennifer Zeis, said in an email Thursday which Dr. Baselga had submitted improvements to his disclosures nevertheless which editors had questions for him before the articles could be corrected. A spokeswoman for the A.A.C.R. said which organization was continuing to review Dr. Baselga’s disclosures.
Dr. Baselga, 59, can be an expert in breast cancer research as well as played a key role inside 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 as well as oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Before which he was a leader at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain.
Medical journals as well as 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 through drug companies. nevertheless medical journals have said they don’t routinely fact-check authors’ disclosures, as well as much can be left to the honor system.
Ethicists say which outside relationships with companies can shape the way studies are designed as well as medications are prescribed to patients, allowing bias to influence medical practice. Reporting those ties allows the public, different scientists as well as doctors to evaluate the research as well as weigh potential conflicts.
Dr. Baselga has extensive ties to a range of companies, including sitting on the board of the large pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb as well as serving as a director of Varian Medical Systems, which sells radiation equipment as well as for whom Memorial Sloan Kettering can be a client.
Dr. Baselga has served on the boards of at least four different companies since 2013, as well as the positions required him to assume a fiduciary responsibility to protect the interests of those companies, even as he oversaw the cancer center’s medical operations. Dr. Baselga as well as Memorial Sloan Kettering have said the cancer center has put firewalls in place to prevent any conflicts.
Dr. Baselga received nearly $3.5 million in payments through drug, medical equipment as well as diagnostic companies through August 2013 through 2017, according to Open Payments, a federal database which tracks payments to physicians through health care companies. Most of which amount, about $3 million, involved a payment through Genentech for Dr. Baselga’s ownership interest in a company which acquired, Seragon Pharmaceuticals, in 2014.
nevertheless the $3.5 million inside Open Payments database does not include payments through companies which don’t have products approved by the Food as well as Drug Administration. Such companies are not required to report their payments under federal law.
For instance, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, a start-up with no approved drug, paid Dr. Baselga nearly $250,000 in cash as well as stock options for serving on its board through 2015 to 2017. He declined to disclose how much he received through such companies.
Dr. Baselga was one of the highest-paid staff members at Memorial Sloan Kettering, earning more than $1.5 million in 2016, the most recent year for which the nonprofit’s financial filings are available.
Charles Ornstein can be a senior editor at ProPublica.