The recent revelation that a leading official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center failed for years to disclose lucrative financial conflicts of interest might have been surprising in its scale. But it’s old news that many researchers aren’t fully transparent when it comes to their financial relationships with industry.
So why should we keep up the charade? And why, given the clarity of the problem, do medical journals continue to take authors at their word — only to wind up looking like dupes?
According to an investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times, Dr. José Baselga — who was chief medical officer of the venerable cancer clinic until resigning Thursday — has what can charitably be described as an inconsistent personal policy on revealing companies that have given him cash or other potentially lucrative fillips. Baselga also has stayed mum about his conflicts of interest — which also involve research funding and seats on advisory boards — in many of his publications, including those in high-rent titles like the New England Journal of Medicine, and despite policies from the journals demanding that authors reveal such relationships.