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

A spokeswoman for The New England Journal, Jennifer Zeis, said in an email Thursday that Dr. Baselga had submitted changes to his disclosures but that editors had questions for him before the articles could be corrected. A spokeswoman for the A.A.C.R. said that organization was continuing to review Dr. Baselga’s disclosures.

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.

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.

Dr. Baselga has served on the boards of at least four other companies since 2013, and 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 and 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 from drug, medical equipment and diagnostic companies from August 2013 through 2017, according to Open Payments, a federal database that tracks payments to physicians from health care companies. Most of that amount, about $3 million, involved a payment from Genentech for Dr. Baselga’s ownership interest in a company it acquired, Seragon Pharmaceuticals, in 2014.


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