On September 8th, 2018, the medical community was in severe shock. That was the day the New York Times broke the story that Dr. José Baselga, a world leading cancer specialist, was being paid millions by drug and medical device companies and not disclosing this information in hundreds of ‘independent’ medical articles he’s authored. Why is this one of the most important discoveries of the decade in the medical field?
Because as Chief Medical Officer of Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital in New York City, one of the world’s leading cancer centers, Baselga had tremendous influence over the medical community. And the story shows how much influence the pharmaceutical industry has over world leading experts.
Although the New York Times focused on Memorial Sloane Kettering mostly, it’s clear in the series of articles that other hospitals have similar stories: a drive for profits that could put patients at risk.
From the New York Times article:
“The corporatization of this institution is clear to many of us who have been here a long time,” said Dr. Carol L. Brown, a gynecologic cancer surgeon, according to an audio recording of the meeting.
The meeting ended after several doctors advocated an immediate no-confidence vote in the hospital’s senior leadership. The turmoil followed reports by The New York Times and ProPublica that the hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. José Baselga, had been paid millions by drug and health care companies and failed to disclose those ties more than 100 times in medical journals, and that hospital insiders had made lucrative side deals that stood to earn them handsome profits, sometimes for work they had done on the job.
When news of Dr. Baselga’s disclosure lapses broke in September, 12 doctors and researchers at the hospital served on the boards of publicly traded companies, more than at any other major cancer center, according to a review by The New York Times and ProPublica. Dr. Baselga has since resigned from the hospital and the two boards he served on. And a day after the physicians’ meeting on Oct. 1, Dr. Thompson resigned from the boards of the pharmaceutical giant Merck and Charles River Laboratories, a health care company, that together had paid him $585,050 in compensation in 2017.
For more facts on the long reach of the pharmaceutical industry, click here.