Dr José Baselga, the former chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, resigned under pressure as one of the editors-in-chief of the American Association for Cancer Research‘s journal Cancer Discovery, after he failed to accurately disclose his conflicts of interest in dozens of articles in medical journals.
The American Association for Cancer Research, which publishes the journal, is quoted in a report in The New York Times as saying a panel of experts and the group’s board of directors had concluded that “Dr Baselga did not adhere to the high standards pertaining to conflict of interest disclosures that the AACR expects of its leadership. Consequently, Dr Baselga was asked to resign from his role at the journal.”
Baselga resigned as chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering in September after The New York Times and ProPublica reported that he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from health care companies in dozens of research articles. He also resigned from the boards of the drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb and Varian Medical Systems, a maker of radiation equipment.
The report says contacted for comment, Baselga provided the resignation letter he sent to the AACR. In it, he thanked the cancer organisation for its “deliberate and thorough review” and said he takes “great heart from the panel’s finding that my failure to disclose was inadvertent. I understand, however, that the situation made it difficult for me to continue in a leadership role.”
Baselga, 59, is an expert in breast cancer research and played a key role in the development of Herceptin by Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche. He came to Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2013 after serving as chief of haematology 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.
The report says investigations found that Baselga had failed to report any industry ties in 60% of the nearly 180 papers he had published since 2013. That figure increased each year – he did not disclose any relationships in 87% of the journal articles that he co-wrote last year.
Drug Maker AstraZeneca Hires Dr. José Baselga
Dr. Baselga was hired as British-Swedish drug maker, AstraZeneca’s head of research and development in oncology, a newly created unit that reflects the company’s shift toward cancer treatments, one of the hottest areas in the drug industry.
In a statement, AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, described Baselga as “an outstanding scientific leader.” “José’s research and clinical achievements have led to the development of several innovative medicines, and he is an international thought leader in cancer care and clinical research,” he said.
AstraZeneca paid Baselga $28,750 for consulting work in 2013 and 2014 related to unspecified drugs, according to the federal database. He failed to disclose any relationships with companies, including AstraZeneca, in dozens of articles in recent years.