Top cancer researcher fails to disclose corporate financial ties in major research journals
Top cancer researcher fails to disclose corporate financial ties in major research journals from Health Nut News
According to a collaboration between ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization and The New York Times, Dr. José Baselga- one of the world’s top breast cancer doctors and researchers- “failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies in recent years, omitting his financial ties from dozens of research articles in prestigious publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.”1
Until the expose came out, Baselga was the chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Therefore this revelation was huge. Baselga didn’t just hold down a job there, he held board memberships or advisory roles with Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb (among other), “had a stake in start-ups testing cancer therapies, and played a key role in the development of breakthrough drugs that “revolutionized” treatments for breast cancer.”2(That word is a stretch. Slashing and burning aren’t words I’d call “revolutionary”.)
However, that all came crashing to the ground a week after the analysis by The New York Times and ProPublica came out:
“After the conflicts—involving millions of dollars—were enumerated in an article published Sept. 9, Baselga attempted a mea culpa strategy while MSK pointed out that disclosure rules are vague and inconsistent.
The Cancer Letter’s analysis of documents that emerged during this imbroglio demonstrates that Baselga didn’t apply standard rules for disclosure, apparently believing, for example, that, in papers dealing with basic and translational research, conflicts are not subject to disclosure. Similarly, he seemed to believe that no disclosure was needed in papers on compounds that are no longer viable.
Documents made public during this controversy but until now not analyzed publicly suggest that Baselga’s interpretation of disclosure was so idiosyncratic that all 178 papers that list him as an author during his time at MSK could be tainted. He disclosed conflicts on 72 of those papers, but adequacy of disclosure may need to be examined. The remaining papers—where no disclosure was made—add up to 105.”3
Baselga did not follow financial disclosure rules set by the American Association for Cancer Research and left out payments he received from companies connected to cancer research in his articles published in the group’s journal, while he was one of the journal’s two editors in chief.
And when this story came out, he played dumb. And said sorry. A lot. He even wrote some letters (see one below):4