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

Dr. José Baselga, the cancer center’s chief medical officer, stepped down days after a report that he had not reported millions of dollars as potential conflicts in dozens of research articles.


Comments: 105

  1. "much is left to the honor system"

    NOTE to the world's board of directors:

    The honor system has been broken for the last few million years.

    Ethics apparently are only for 'little people'.

    I'm sure Dr. Baselga is a very talented doctor and researcher, but he's also just another pathetic guy on the unethical take stuffing his pockets with corporate lucre pretending his judgement is perfect.

    Good riddance.

  2. Oh yes.. talented doc no doubt.
    But when your judgements are tainted by big pharmaceutical profits how impartial are you really? The medical industry is a machine driven by the self sustaining system of pitching drugs from industry to prescribers. Many are helped but is this the only way ??

  3. @Socrates No honor to this system, apparently!

  4. The ties between those who supply the medical profession with drugs and equipment are deep and wide. Two sides of a coin really. Not always obvious.

    Research often has industry sponsors. NIH seeks partnerships with potential developers and marketers of drugs which might flow from research.

    It all gives us an industry dedicated to an industry which now consumes nearly one fifth of the US economy. Unsustainable but deeply embedded in relationships which keep it going in this direction.

  5. No surprise that this and many other doctors are corrupt.

    We experienced horrific treatment at the hands of top-rated NYC oncologist who flat out lied to my mom in order to continue treatment (with a trial drug is my understanding), despite having Stage 4 lung cancer. He told her one story and told me and my family another when we left the room.
    Then, without her permission or knowledge, brought a drug rep. into an exam after asking me to leave.
    She died very quickly, as her conditioned deteriorated faster due to the unnecessary and unhelpful chemo the doctor pushed. She should have turned down all treatment and spent her last months with her family. She would have likely done that had he not given her false hope.

  6. This is very common. Their palliative care skills are often glaringly absent.

  7. Transparency is a must. As a pediatrician in practice, I spend a lot of time dispelling myths about vaccines for examples with families who are convinced that the data is tainted due to physicians working for/with the pharmaceutical industry to forward the bottom line at the expense of potential risk. These sorts of incidents of high level, respected physicians apparently hiding their relationships with industry while publishing clinical papers and leading organizations with apparent conflicts of interest taints us all.

  8. @Molly Gallucci I agree. Big incidents like this make the scientific community look bad. People jump into big conclusions and paint a wide brush on the scientific community then it's up to the good ones to dispel misconceptions ESPECIALLY with vaccines which has done so much in our generation.

  9. The age of ethical integrity is dead. If there was any doubt the conduct Baselga has removed it.
    I have purposely avoided using the title "Dr." as that is an honorific title to which I suggest he my have as a legal entitlement but no as a moral entitlement.

  10. Unfortunately, there is not yet a medication for GREED.

  11. @Phyliss Dalmatian

    But it's in trials :)

  12. What is his severance package?

  13. Seems clear to me that journals should do the background checks they're not doing on authors. Obviously, humans can be corrupt and can lie. It should always be assumed that that's a possibility, and it harms nobody to fact-check the truthful. If these publications had simply pulled up the guy's resume on LinkedIn, they could have seen he had industry ties which might bias his research findings.

    On the other hand, it's nice that he hasn't also been accused of groping women co-workers and forcing them into having sex, which is what one would expect these days.

  14. It’s difficult to fathom Dr. Baselga would deliberately compromise his sterling reputation and risk promoting less than optimal treatment for MSKCC patients, in pursuit of monetary gain.

    He may be guilty of less than full disclosure, yes.

    Conspiring with Pharma to promote less than optimal treatment for cancer patients? Given the dedication and professionalism I have observed at MSKCC, I simply don’t believe it.

  15. Studies have shown that pharma reps simply giving a doctor a $3 pen or a set of EKG measuring calipers is enough to get the doctor to prescribe more of that rep’s drugs. it certainly may be an unconscious tendency but it is real. It’s hard to image 1.5 million not having some desired effect..because drug companies aren’t stupid and they don’t give away money by the suitcase full for no reason.

  16. You would have said the same of Martha Stewart years ago too.

    People lose perspective and make bad decisions.

  17. Biederman and MGH. Google.

  18. No other industry produces more opportunity to front-run fake news on financial markets. Many people hold multiple board seats in the interlocked directorship of the USA.

  19. Until the late 1980s, the FDA was funded by taxpayers. When Ronald Reagan slashed its funding, Food and Pharmaceutical companies smartly stepped in and made up the shortage.
    Today most of the senior appointees are from the food and pharmaceutical industry. Manipulative pharmaceutical Ads on TV are dominant.
    Universities and medical institutions are no longer independent. Their research is primarily funded by industry.
    The solution to this is simple. Taxpayers need to put their money where their mouth is. We need to fully fund the FDA. Fully fund our Universities. Let the bureaucrats rule. Pass laws preventing Pharmaceutical money from influencing research, clinical trials and doctors.
    We can’t have the fox guarding the chicken coop and complain about the missing chicken.

  20. The rules of disclosure are pretty clear, and probably little more than routine to someone of Dr. Baselga’s stature and experience. Which begs the question as to why he left himself vulnerable by repeatedly failing to disclose.

  21. @InTheBurbs

    He did it because everybody does it, at his level. He didn't have bad intent, I'm sure; he's just of the generation (and the gender) that thinks rules and paperwork aren't required of him. They are used to being the ones in charge and doing things how they want to do them. Because they are running prestigious programs at top institutions, they think they define what is ethical and what is acceptable. The rest is paperwork and they usually don't concern themselves with paperwork. It's just checkboxes on a form, they don't think it matters to someone of their stature.

  22. That is it?

    His resignation does not remove the conflict of interest ethical, legal, medical professional and scientific credibility cloud of culpable suspicion over all of his work and the institutions and people who he worked for and with. There needs to be a full independent investigation of this covert conspiracy and a report that holds everyone accountable for their action and inaction.

  23. I fully agree. This scientist is a criminal and the institution made it easy for him to hide his unethical behavior. Both are culpable.

  24. How many people did he LET die?

  25. @tina moody

    Okay, over the top. That's almost certainly an unfair accusation. At least give him credit that his money is likely behind the drugs he thinks WORK - even if it's true that he's biased because they pay him.

    That doesn't excuse his lapses in disclosure in any way, but I haven't seen any evidence he would knowingly let patients die if he knew a drug didn't work.

    This is about ethical blindness, succumbing to greed while convincing oneself one is a savior to patients, and believing oneself above ordinary folk in ethical matters … a sort of "saint" complex. I don't think we need to suggest the man's a murderer. Very unlikely.

  26. The incestuous relationship between medical industries and medical research has grown to such a point that it is difficult to find most research credible today. Of course, this directly affects all our lives, but I guarantee you that no one in the Trump administration or the Republican party will care. Business should control everything even our lives.

  27. The historical financial firewall between physicians responsible for patient care and clinical research and Big Pharma and medical equipment makers was breached decades ago.

    It all began in 1846 , when W.T.G. Morton D.D.S. tried to patent and demand royalties for the use of ether as a surgical anesthetic. The surgeons of the Mass. General Hospital rebelled by threatening to ban its use in surgery until he abandoned his claim to profit from the use of ether in surgery.

    How ironic that 160 years later, another world renowned (ex)-Mass. General Hospital physician has been forced to resign from Memorial Sloane-Kettering Medical Center for accepting payment from drug companies that supply the cancer drugs for research which only he and his associates can prescribe.

    His design of the randomized trials, and indeed the final results of these trials designed to test whether these cancer drugs are safe, effective , and in fact more effective that alternate treatments are now suspect.
    It seems that when Dr. Baselga’s professional reputation and his international renown had to compete with his personal financial gain , his medical ethics and Hippocratic oath which requires that he place the best interest of his patients ahead of his financial gain were the losers. Now, public shame will provide the discipline that he lacked.

  28. Very few things are black and white in life. This happens to be one of them.

    The conflicted Dr. Baselga, and Sloan Kettering still don't get it. He (with the approval of their communication department said this).

    "...adding that he hoped the medical community would work together to develop a more standardized system for reporting industry ties."

    The only "standardized system" is to always fully disclose all payments from drug companies.

  29. Dr. Baselga knew he violated ethical requirements, but was too greedy to comply. It was easier to stay silent and let the money keep coming. After all, really nice apartments in NYC don't come cheap. He really needs to be fired. All of his research will need to be reviewed as biased interpretation of data is not rare in medical research.

  30. It’s possibly that ego and lack of organization was also responsible- this guy obviously sign into other people’s work to give these studies more weight-it’s even possible that he helped guide and critique the work in useful ways.It’s equally possible he simply didn’t take the time to pay attention to which one of those drug manufacturers whose drugs being studied had previously given him sacks full of cash. Doesn’t make it ok though.

  31. Whatever happened to integrity?

  32. A ripple effect flows from medical corruption into our courts of law in personal injury litigation. Pharmaceutical defendants rely on published, peer reviewed articles to deflect the plaintiffs' expert witnesses' testimony/opinions and hire these corrupt doctors as defense expert witnesses. The whole system is corrupt, and it is rare for doctor to get caught with their hands in the till by plaintiffs in civil litigation. I wonder who discovered this man's duplicity? The IRS? Or a plaintiff's attorney?

  33. 180 "real" papers since 2013? That's about one a week for five years. Does this man have a day job? And is he just repeating the same thing over and over?

  34. He is one of the authors on the paper. Individuals in his lab and collaborators include him as an author on the paper. He is included because because he contributed to the work in some way though actual bench work, data analysis, or more likely through intellectual input. Senior authors like him tend to review the manuscripts written by students, staff or junior faculty. Clinical publications can have 10, 20 or more authors representing individual contributors by a team of researchers.

  35. The Chinese Communist Party has a mandate to promote Chinese medicine. A perusal of online NCBI published research papers reveal an inordinate amount of Chinese researchers promoting Chinese traditional medicine using unorthodox, subjective adjectives which promote their 'research' findings, many of which are substandard in methodology. For example, many of these Chinese 'research' papers rely on data based on n values <15 and use of subjective language such as, "...our research thus indicates --- to mediate superb effect." Non-disclosure of subjective funding is on par with non-disclosure of foreign state objectives.

  36. Wow! Only two comments for this article. THIS IS BIG NEWS FOLKS. Wait until you personally get ill and have to navigate the muddy waters of high profile doctors and their ties to the companies that provide the drugs to keep you alive. Those of us who are chronically ill and have been hooked on "big pharma" for years (obviously I speak from experience), are merely test subjects for these drugs, and all of the side effects that require "throwing meds at meds". I have been a test subject for seven years and respect my doctors at the very famous research and teaching facility that treats me, but I remain fully aware that they are "in bed" with the pharmaceutical companies (all I have to do is read their scholarly articles and see the advances that they have made and the drugs that they have influenced and been influenced by) .........and here I sit typing this.........30 years ago I would already be dead. Haha! Dance with the devil.

  37. Drug company reps have the integrity of lobbyist. NONE.

  38. Too broad a brush. My daughter teaches at University of Chicago and won't even accept samples.

    However, my roommate is a pharmaceutical rep, and he was fired and defamed for turning in a major drug company for kickbacks. He took a huge job hit and testified against them for justice department. He still sells pain meds -- a safer alternate version of oxycontin -- and just saying he is very ethical. That pain med is a good thing because it's not addictive. So not all reps are bad.


  39. “. . . he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from health care companies in dozens of research articles. . . . Dr. Baselga had made “numerous” contributions to Memorial Sloan Kettering, patients and cancer treatment.”

    Perhaps if Dr. Baselga had donated every penny he received from health care companies to cancer patients who cannot afford the world class treatment available at MSK, I wouldn’t feel as disgusted as I do that he grossly profited and benefited on the backs of cancer patients.

    Somewhere along the way, personal and professional ethics vanished and greed took hold. What a despicable and sad article.

  40. That is step 1.
    Step 2 is to have his license revoked by the New York Board of Medicine.
    Step 3 is to release the plaintiff lawyers.

    All researchers know what we need to disclose. The journals are quite specific and the disclosure forms are easy to read. What Dr. Baselga did was unethical.

    Furthermore, he may have steered patients to less than optimal medical treatments - this is murder.

  41. There should be NO financial connection between doctors and medical companies. None, zero, nil. That means no payments. No investments. No speaking fees or junkets. No sports tickets. Etc.

    Why are double-blind studies the gold standard of scientific research? To eliminate bias.

    It's not complicated.

  42. One area where that gets harder is orthopedic prosthetics. hard to get precision devices with ceramic or chromium cobalt materials made without someone to make them. At
    My hospital our wealthiest best payed doc holds a lot of patents for various devices used in spinal surgery. It’s in some ways an unholy alliance between this guy, the university he works for and the companies who make the stuff, but it’s apparently very good stuff. It’s possible this guy would still do this work without making literally many millions per year, but it’s hard to know. It may be that he’s simply decided that he’d rather it was him that made the money rather than someone else, but the most obvious someone else would be the university hospital that trained him and allowed him to use their infrastructure to develop his stuff. For me, drug research is the most obviously area open for corruption ( partially because profitable drugs pass into the public domain thus incentivizing the development of new patented medications), however I certainly have had enough contact with sales reps for vascular access device companies to find that everyone in health care probably witnesses medically corrupt situations on a daily basis. Probably best to look at how things are done in the Scandinavian countries where the profit motive is less d/t socialized medicine being performed in social democracies. Not perfect systems, but likely to be cleaner in terms of profit motives causing ethical lapses.

  43. Money trumps all in Trump's America.

  44. Malfeasance in science is hardly surprising; without substantial reform to how science is conducted these sorts of stories will continue to surface. Dr. Baselga's infractions are actually quite minor compared to previous cases. Anecdotally, I have noticed that the profit motive of medical science in particular has led to some particularly egregious behaviors, but even for researchers that are less motivated by money and more by reputation/ego there are some pretty bad cases (Stapel, etc). For more information, I'd suggest taking a look at some of the following links:

    https://www.badscience.net/
    https://retractionwatch.com/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/business/sidney-gilmans-shift-led-to-...
    https://study329.org/

  45. He published 180 papers in one year. Think he knows what’s in them? What is the ethical standard regarding authorship at Sloan Kettering?

  46. @Alec Wodtke. According to PubMed, he has published a total of 510 and the most in a year, was in 2017 when he published 44.

  47. @David M

    NYT article says 180 in 2013? Maybe that’s not right?

    Even if... for 40 papers a year, I pose the same question.

  48. @Alec Wodtke
    It's called "guest authorship," where the big guy gets his name on all the junior faculty papers even if he essentially had nothing to do with them. It's also unethical.

  49. Is this the tip of the iceberg? Pharma and cancer clinics know that their narrative keeps their mills running and to use resources to get endorsements is their MO.
    How is it that the clinical work of Young Hee Ko PhD and Peter Pedersen PhD on cancer being a metabolic disorder while and John Hopkins has been disbanded? No money in that approach as 3 bromopyruvate and a low glucose diet is non patentable.
    The National Institute of Health data reveals chemo therapy and radiation treatments have short term benefit but actually damage the mitochondria and convert more cells to a cancerous state; over 90% of lung, pancreatic, brain, colon, breast, lymphatic, blood cancer patients die by year 5 of having been 1st diagnosed using the current "kill everything" method.

  50. It’s no wonder that people who transition to palliative or hospice care early tend to live longer with better quality of life in their final days ( except it’s often months or years). Which isn’t to say chemo or radiation aren’t without their uses, or that they don’t have a role in some kinds of palliative treatment ( shrinking an inoperative tumor in someone’s esophagus so they can continue to eat for instance) but there is a great deal of money to be made on these therapies and I see people being advised to continue with them when the cost vs. benefit ratio has obviously tilted away from the patient’s best interest.

  51. Here’s a true story- friend of the family was diagnosed with likely fatal metastatic breast cancer and being medically unsophisticated, she goes to one of those store front cancer treatment clinics in her Chicago neighborhood. They offer her a referral for radical mastectomy and their radiation plus their chemo. My sister (who is a Nurse practitioner in a public health clinic and so no expert in oncology) reads in the referrals that it’s a certain type of cancer and knows that the proper treatment for what is in fact likely to be fatal cancer,is simply to control her cancer with hormones. Our friend lives another five years and dies as expected, only she’s spared the useless chemo, radiation, chemo side effects, port placement and having her breasts surgically removed. I doubt this story is unusual.

  52. My father-in-law was a lung specialist. When he developed lung cancer he chose no treatment. It was suggested to me that doctors often tend to refuse care in these cases, knowing how difficult the treatment and how long the odds.

  53. This is scary for anyone who has received treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering and who has received treatment derived from Dr. Baselga's other "projects, positions and investments".

    The last thing a cancer patient needs is more fear and an obscure situation.

    Only good thing here is the promotion of Dr. Lisa de Angelis. She is leading (along with Dr. Craig Sauter and others) a study to find a cure for CNS lymphoma (a previously incurable form of brain cancer) with great success. The cure for this type of brain cancer may be announced within some years (more than 60 patients have already had complete remission; all would have died just some years ago).

    Kudos to Dr. Lisa de Angelis and Dr. Craig Sauter, both doing amazing work at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

  54. @Lily
    Surely the work of Drs de Angelis and Sauter will benefit future CNS lymphoma patients. Before we get too high and mighty, who is paying for this research? I would be surprised if the support is all from Sloan Kettering and/or National Cancer Inst at NIH. Unfortunately medical/clinical work often needs industry support.

  55. Excellent reporting by the NYT exposing this and affecting change.

    Now, please report on whether the “doctor” will retain his likely lucrative exit package following this “voluntary” resignation or whether MSK will have the courage to strip him of that, too. I suspect the package is fairly obscene.

  56. I guess they left the comment section open on this article, ‘ Cause I Read it a few days ago, and thought nothing new: doctors are always trying to get rich-er, no? Doesn’t everybody? Greasing the palms is an old tradition, that everybody has been forced to live with. Although if it leads to a compromise in the quality or effectiveness of a med under development, then I guess it won’t sell well, After a painful introduction

  57. With truth comes accountability for those in great power.

  58. The symbiotic relationship between greedy physicians and pharmaceutical companies has been present for decades and represents a flagrant disregard for ethics. Sadly, this is considered the norm within the medical community. The orthopedists who only replace joints with products from the company from whom they get a "research stipend", etc. etc. Worse yet are the academics like the doc in question who purport to be the standard bearers for medical care yet are on the take for millions. Docs like myself who refuse to have any relationships with pharmaceutical representatives are the outliers and are considered puritanical. There seems to be no such thing as personal or academic integrity where the possibility of an extra buck is involved.

  59. Yes. The health care system is driven by the money profit incentive. It is the medical industrial complex... throughly corrupt. Needless testing and procedures often leading to complications.
    As experienced as I am being " behind the curtain" I too have been victimized. Live and learn and let the patient beware.
    Google Dr. Biederman of MGH fame. He is still there thriving.
    No consequence to corruption in most cases.
    Emigration advised.

  60. So Dr. Baselga wants a “more standardized system” for reporting industry ties.

    He could have started by answering the conflict of interest questions honestly when he submitted his papers for publication. I’m a scientist, and I can’t submit a paper until every author on my papers has answered that question. Yet Baselga claimed to have “inadvertently” omitted the information. Oh-huh.

    The man is a liar and a cheat, but he’s a liar and cheat in a system that encourages —- requires —- sensational results if you want to get hired and keep your job. And then there is the pernicious influence of corporations.

    And we wonder why things are falling apart.

  61. @Valerie
    Yeah, that cracked me up. There's a very standardized system for reporting. You fill out the forms the journal sends you, answering all the questions honestly. It is usually done electronically and it isn't hard - unless perhaps you have so many conflicts you can't keep track of them all? Then that's a different problem.

  62. I heartily agree that doctors should be required to disclose payments from pharmaceutical companies.

    May I also suggest that our elected representatives be required to make such disclosures very clear when they are promoting or voting on legislation that might be affected by their paymasters?

  63. Capatilism and medicine do not mix. The profit motive drives the drug companies and insurance companies to try to influence doctors and researchers; and the prospect of personal wealth (3.5 million in this case) temps doctors and researchers to compromise their work.

    An “honor system” will never be sufficient to prevent this disastrous set up. Medicine must be entirely removed from the market and from the lure of profits.

  64. Capitalism drives innovation - most medical advances come after private/public partnerships. . When disclosures are appropriate it works. The issue here is only that DR Baselga failed to make his industry ties crystal clear in his academic papers. Through Open Payments and requires financial disclosures in his employment - these conflicts were known.

  65. Weird because the profit motive is much less in socialized medicine countries like Sweden, Norway and Finland and those were the countries with a lot of the better studies I used while taking my last medical research class. It doesn’t hurt that those countries’ doctors are much more willing to supply access to their research papers for free...

  66. Our entire country is riddled with criminals and cheaters. They are either filching money or pinching women.
    As I've written countless times in these posts... emigrate. This ship is disintegrating.

  67. The main issue here is not whether Dr. Baselga properly revealed his financial links to drug companies in published articles, although he apparently should have, but that he had massive conflicts of interest, financial and otherwise, to begin with. These conflicts of interest, which must limit medical progress, present additional hurdles in the care of desperate cancer patients.

    It also seems likely that the grotesque financial burden that cancer patients are asked to assume for often useless treatments, is related to the kind of system that Dr. Baselga navigates.

  68. How many customers of the "great" Sloan-Kettering have received second or even third best treatment based on tainted research by doctors receiving profits from drug or equipment companies? How many have been treated with aggressive debilitating therapies when it was not necessary? There is no money from treatment where people are told to wait and see. There is less money when research has proven that less treatment is sometimes better.

    Every treatment protocol at MSK is suspect until it is proven that no researcher wrote a report for a product for which he received payment. Dr. José Baselga is far from the only doctor who benefitted financially. Since he was in charge, like the bishops who looked the other way when children were being abused, he looked the other way when many under him received kickbacks.

    An outside investigation should start immediately. I expect to see late night lawyer ads on TV looking for people who were harmed by tainted treatments at MSK. When it is done, MSK will be fighting to maintain its reputation as a top center. People were led to believe MSK had the best treatments. I hope they have good insurance, they will need it.

  69. @S.L.

    “How many customers of the "great" Sloan-Kettering have received second or even third best treatment based on tainted research by doctors receiving profits from drug or equipment companies? ”

    Zero.

    You really have no clue what you’re talking about and are embarrassing yourself.

  70. Good riddance. It's time for such blatant conflicts of interest to stop.

    We need a single-payer healthcare system, with physicians and other healthcare professionals who are drawn to the field because of their desire to serve, not their desire to enrich themselves.

    It continues to be a paradoxical fact that the more loot doctors take under the table from Big Pharma, the more they rationalize to themselves that it's perfectly okay, even if the public wouldn't understand how important and deserving such doctors are.

  71. What does this possibly have to do with single-payer healthcare? Do you imagine that researchers don't get paid by pharmaceutical companies to conduct research in a single-payer system? Some of these comments are truly astounding.

  72. @Richard M. Waugaman, M.D.

    Fantastic, Doctor! We’ll reduce your salary by 50% and take 75% of it to help pay for the $32 trillion needed for single payer. You’ll be making less than the guy that hauls your trash away.

  73. I would not be surprised if he falsified data in his papers. Someone should take a look carefully.

  74. A close family member works with Dr Baselga and is also involved in similar academic and private practice endeavors. She, and every scientists with whom I spoke is devastated by the Times' coverage on this.

    First, his "secrecy" wasn't secret at all - his financial stake in companies that he helped found (and were later bought out) is well documented. Sure, he should have made this clearer in his actual publications, but this wasn't exactly a smoke and mirror operation. No research was falsified to benefit his companies, no groundbreaking discovery discarded if he couldn't profit from it, etc.

    Far more consequentially, however, is that scientists are under constant attack from conspiracy theorists on both polar extremes of the political spectrum. The far right believes that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by "fat cat scientists" to get funding and fatter paychecks. We have Mike Pence proclaiming that "smoking doesn't kill" despite overwhelming research that it does. On the far left, the anti-vaccination crowd has indoctrinated hoards of hysterics into believing that scientists already have the cure to cancer, Alzheimers, AID, you name it - they're just waiting for the best price before selling it. And on and on.

    Skepticism of science has made our country infinitely more ignorant. While I disagree with Dr Baselga's carelessness, this feels more like a blown-out-of-proportion hit piece, one that may make a major problem in America even worse.

  75. Norma: who’s fault is that? Do you think it’s the commenters here, the media that tells these stories or the guy who failed to disclose his conflicts? It’s not the conflicts themselves that raise my eyebrows (potential conflicts simply help when scrutinizing someone’s research); it’s his concealment of his conflicts. This is medical research 101 and he should have known better...or not taken the money, which is always an option.

  76. @Solaris - This is not just about disclosing being on the payroll but lying about results. This isn't a hatchet job but disclosure of less than honorable behavior by a "respected" oncologist. How many people has he harmed with his lies and ommissions.? "Sorry, I forgot to say Roche is paying me to say this study is better than it actually was."
    This is from the Times: 9/8/18
    "At a conference this year and before analysts in 2017, he put a positive spin on the results of two Roche-sponsored clinical trials that many others considered disappointments, without disclosing his relationship to the company. Since 2014, he has received more than $3 million from Roche in consulting fees and for his stake in a company it acquired."

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/health/jose-baselga-cancer-memorial-s...

  77. @Solaris, sure, science denial is a huge problem —- and people like Jose Beselga give free ammunition to the conspiracy theorists.

    The point isn’t that people around him knew about the conflicts of interest. It’s that strangers thousands of miles away reading his papers DIDN’T. If you don’t think this is a problem, read up on Jesse Gelsinger and Andrew Wakefield. The difference is only a matter of degree.

    Maybe it’s good that your family member is “devastated.” Maybe this situation will get her thinking about the pernicious effects of too much money in medicine and too much corporate influence in science. I write this as a biomedical scientist who’s disgusted with the situation.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the money offered by Big Pharma and biotech. It all seems so wonderful —- until it’s not. Like when someone like Jesse Gelsinger dies, without knowing that James Wilson had a huge financial stake in the gene therapy that killed him. Or when your infant dies of pertussis caught from an unvaccinated snowflake whose parents didn’t know that Andrew Wakefield had a conflict of interest.

    It takes a lot of courage and self-reflection to question the status quo when you’re embedded in it. Jose Beselga doesn’t seem up to the task. Most people aren’t. So we need a new approach.

  78. "That said, he added, relationships between academic faculty members and the health care industry are essential to developing new drugs"

    Why does it need to be a financial relationship? Assuming he is in academia / research because he wants to do good in the world, and not just make as much money as he can, why can't people in his position serve on the boards to the extent it helps him do that and donate any potential income from those arrangements to funds helping people afford care like MSK offers?

    $1.5mm salary isn't enough for people in these types of positions? (and when did this person have any time to actually do his job if he was serving on all these boards?)

  79. @Bob Smith

    The majority of financial “muscling” comes from the physicians and not the pharma/medical industry. Doctors demand big honorariums to go speak on a disease state or medication. And yes.....these new therapies are incredible and life extending and basically “sell” themselves. So people that attack the big, bad pharma companies are misguided and ill informed. I tell critics that ignorantly attack the industry that if their poor lifelong lifestyle habits cause cancer, you don’t have to take these new Oncology targeted therapies that will extend your life by fifeteen years. So if you hate the pharma industry, don’t come running to them to save your life.

  80. The ignorance evinced by the comments is shocking. You all deserve what you will get: your paranoia about "conflicts of interest" will drive smart doctors to become hedge fund investors and you all will be treated by substandard physicians who don't know or care what the standard of care is or could become and you will die protracted painful deaths from cancers that would have been treated or prevented by great men like Baselga.

  81. Are you really saying what I think you are, that good doctors only do this for the money? And suggesting a little scrutiny about which companies pay them to do research or advise them is going to force them to choose to become hedge fund managers...and we’ll all suffer from worse care?

    Your arrogance is astounding. And laughable. If you are one of these doctors, yes, please do us a favor and go into finance.

  82. It's not so easy to succeed in hedge fund. Ripping off the patients and their insurance is a " piece of cake". Very common. We are programmed as physicians to do unnecessary tests and procedures. Many of us can be categorized as pathogens.

  83. Wow. What a shocking commentary about doctors. So all the good ones are just doing it to get rich and if they can’t feed at the trough and get wealthy beyond reason, they won’t be doctors? Very sad commentary indeed.

  84. From the earliest days of my daughter's diagnosis and ongoing journey of treatment at MSKCC, I always wondered in the darkest recesses of my mind if there could possibly exist any nefarious connection between finding "THE CURE" and the subsequent collapse of the economics of cancer. Thousands upon thousands of careers, businesses, institutions, and jobs that span an enormous range of businesses and industries would be impacted worldwide. Each day I hope and pray that the doctors, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are working altruistically to reach the goals of unlocking the mysteries of cancer and that humankind is too good for money to be a driving force in that quest But when a expose like this is made public, I wonder if my skepticism is not unfounded. Can society ever rise above the desire for money and unethical and immoral behaviors its pursuit inspires?

  85. @Marleen I agree that money corrupts in many ways in this world. However I think it's a far stretch to say there's a connection between finding "the cure" and the collapse of the economics of cancer. I'm just a regular scientist and I don't hold my breath for a cure-all because I know unfortunately that cancer just doesn't work like that even if me and my family wish that it does. Dr. Baselga's actions are a serious offense but don't lose hope in the scientific community. There are many scientists and researchers that do better and push back against any bad studies or even falsified ones like the infamous one from Andrew Wakefield. It's why other researchers that may question a study try to reproduce it and prove it works. A bad study will not stand the test of time.

  86. @Danny: one theory for the reason that republicans seem to hate stem cell research is that trillions would be lost to drug companies and other parts of the health care industry if that technology were one day able to do just one thing:repair the pancreases of diabetics-imagine the far reaching consequences not just for the makers of insulin, and accucheck devices and the new mechanical pancreas technologies being developed, but also a large segment of the transplant industry, the cardiac care and cardiac pharm industries, peripheral vascular care technology and PV surgeons... and that’s just scratching the surface. Imagine a world with no type one diabetes and you see a ripple of lost profit that would cut into a whole lot of profit. Add stem cell’s potential to cure a few other chronic disorders and you see a health care industry disaster...because after all, it needs sick people to be profitable.

  87. I work as a physician for a large west-coast HMO. I cannot take payments from big pharmaceutical companies. These payments are a clear conflict of interest and should be illegal.

  88. Criminal charges should be filed. Perhaps malpractice charges. He took the money first, then the patients were no longer in the equation.

  89. Why should there be any profit AT ALL in a nation's health system?
    Are American physicians incapable of operating effectively without additional income streams outside of their salaries?
    Are they so lazy or craven that they will only undertake some activities if they are paid above-and-beyond?
    Shouldn't medicine and the provision of medical goods and services be a noble calling? An honor? A privilege?
    Do we actually get much more from the high costs of high profits—or do the distortions that profits introduce outweigh any benefits?
    Why should there be any profit AT ALL in a nation's health system?

  90. I am a physician in primary care- I cannot imagine taking even one cent from a pharmaceutical company (or even a lunch for that matter). I view them as corporate shareholder beholden money making machines who are a necessary evil. Their bottom line is profit.
    I stay as disconnected as possible; their advertising is lost on me.

  91. @Rob L
    Huh.....my guess then is your patients aren’t getting the latest improved and ground breaking therapies and medications because of your narrow minded obstinence. Glad you’re not my doctor.

  92. It is not even within the realm of possibility that this guy does not understand "conflict of interest". Greed. Hope his work is reviewed; he may have lied about that too.

  93. Undisclosed conflicts of interest - and disclosed ones - are common. This is the medical industry works. It's all about using other people's health to make as much money as possible.

    Jiggered data sets and jiggered studies make a mockery of the so-called evidence-based medicine that MDs go on about.

    Many ethical studies (e.g. Harvard's Safra Center) have found that Big Medicine is a scam. Might be one of the reasons US healthcare outcomes are ranked at the bottom of the industrialized countries while also being the most expensive.

  94. Are you under the impression that other countries use other drugs made by other drug companies?

  95. This guy has guts.

    Instead of slinking away like any self-respecting person would, he proclaims that he hopes he has "inspire[d] a doubling down on transparency in our field." That's akin to Weinstein publicly lauding his donation to a domestic abuse fund.

    Memorial Sloan Kettering is also a joke and I will never donate to them again. They should have fired this fraudster long ago.

  96. @Jay Lincoln MSK is saving my life. No joke.

  97. The resignation letter was arrogant, unsurprisingly. Baselga has forfeited the right to tell the medical field what he thinks about addressing transparency from this point forward. If he wants credibility, first return the money earned through his own horrible example. Donate it to research or financial assistance to those patients who need it. His actions should be a case study for all medical schools and graduate schools. That is the legacy he leaves.

  98. Great Letter to the Editor by Charles Fried on this in the New York Times at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/opinion/letters/doctors-conflicts-of-...
    Excerpt:
    "But I would ask another question: Why isn’t $1.5 million enough? Surely there is value and a satisfaction in being able to say: I advise anyone who has a promising idea, who cares about restoring cancer patients to health; these efforts and judgments are driven only by the good I think they will do; this advice, these judgments are free, and when I give them it is public and open."

  99. Face it - this is akin to virtually every candidate taking $ from people with - surprise - an agenda that they surely don't share - not 100%.

    Which is not to excuse Dr. Baselga ... so much as to recognize the realities that led to what I'm sure will never rise above "a poor judgment call."

    World class physicians are just one notch below - if that - the likes of Les Moonves in terms of compensation.

    There are some saintly MD's, I'm sure, ones who are so scrupulous in avoiding situations like this that they make do on a few million dollars in salary & other current benefits.

    But when the norm is - and maybe there IS NO wink-wink when it's said: "We're not paying you to come to a certain conclusion; we just want you to validate - in a way we simply cannot, not with our history & self-interest - that this or that drug is as good as we think it is"

    ... situations like this are inevitable. It's also similar to the millions of men - some, with no fame - who've treated women shabbily in the past. They guessed - probably rightly - that they could get away with it!

    If only "investigative journalists" could go through journal articles and "follow the money," Dr. Baselga would be in a pen with hundreds of other docs.

    Until/unless being an MD becomes something other than the most sure way to make it to the 1%, things like this are actually among the LESS serious abuses US citizens will have to deal with when dealing with our medical care system.

    Meanwhile, MSK - meet Wells Fargo!

  100. I tell my (pharmacy) students that the source of funding for clinical research project does not necessarily affect the findings or conclusions. At the same time, as a reviewer of manuscripts submitted for publication, I do note the funding source and expect all authors to be scrupulously honest in divulging potential conflicts.

    Dr. Baselga failed miserably in his responsibility as a researcher and author, and should be ostracized from any further contributions to the medical literature. Moreover, the recommendations of Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, that appears as an editorial in today's issue of the NYT should be implemented immediately. They are long overdue.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/opinion/jose-baselga-research-disclos...

  101. Is nothing sacred anymore? Greed and corruption everywhere. Expect the worst and you won't be disappointed.

  102. I happen to know Dr Baselga personally. He is a brilliant doctor, a terrific researcher, and a wonderful human being. I have learned many important lessons from him. His efforts have saved many lives, and will doubtless save many more in the future. Yes, he worked with commercial companies and others, and he did so to make sure that research was properly done. He has encouraged high quality scientific work from all of those he counseled. Someday you may find that you are condemned for errors you made, and people who don't know you will ignore everything good you have ever done. Remember to judge the whole person.

  103. @Tim, I’m sure he’s very nice to his friends. That’s not the problem.

    The problem is that he took millions from pharmaceutical companies, wrote positively about drugs that hadn’t done well in trials, and chose to lie about his significant conflicts of interest when submitting papers for publication. As I’ve said here, you can’t submit a paper in biomedicine without answering conflict of interest questions. Full stop. The software won’t let you do it. He lied and ticked “none.”

    I’m sure he talks a good talk about ensuring that a company’s work is of the highest quality. They wouldn’t have paid him so much if he didn’t. This is what marketing is all about.

  104. Someone close to me worked for him for a few months. In addition to being unethical, he was arrogant, rude, unreasonable and unprofessional in how he treated his staff... Public name calling, embarrassing, insulting his colleagues and assistants was the norm, HR new about it, but has done nothing... He was a “star”... How many NP-s he went through! People simply couldn’t stay with him long enough. His reputation preceded him.

  105. The MSK board was not doing its job. How many of them will do the honourable thing and resign? Let me guess, precisely none.