AstraZeneca hires Memorial Sloan Kettering CMO ousted over drug ties

José Baselga, MD, PhD, the former CMO of New York City-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who resigned from the institution in September 2018 after failing to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug companies, was recently hired to lead a top pharmaceutical company's new oncology research unit, ProPublica reports.

Here are five things to know:

1. Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca said in a Jan. 7 statement that it had hired Dr. Baselga, 59, to head up its new unit focusing on research and development in oncology. The company's president and executive director, Pascal Soriot, said in the statement that Dr. Baselga was "an outstanding scientific leader" and that his "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."

2. Dr. Baselga stepped down from his role as CMO at MSKCC in September after a joint investigation by The New York Times and ProPublica revealed he failed to accurately disclose his conflicts of interest in several articles published in various medical journals. While MSKCC maintains Dr. Baselga was not fired from his role, hospital leaders have alleged he was forced out and that his actions left hospital leadership "no choice," according to a New York Times report.

3. Shortly after the investigation was published, Dr. Baselga resigned from the boards of pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and radiation equipment manufacturer Varian Medical Systems, the report states. In December, the American Association for Cancer Research said he had also resigned from his post as one of two editors-in-chief of its medical journal.

4. In a Jan. 7 statement to Reuters, Dr. Baselga took responsibility for the disclosure lapses and noted that many of his relationships with drug manufacturers were made public on CMS' Open Payments database, which discloses drugmakers' payments to physicians. However, ProPublica reports some of the relationships Dr. Baselga failed to disclose were with smaller biotech startups that he was not required to report to the federal government.

5. Before his arrival at MSKCC in 2013, Dr. Baselga served as chief of hematology and oncology at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital. Following his departure from MSKCC in September, Dr. Baselga has reportedly corrected his conflict of interest disclosures in several journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, which referred to Dr. Baselga's actions as a "breach of trust," the report states.

To access the full report, click here.

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