Boston hospitals warn physicians to disclose industry ties amid Memorial Sloan controversy

Triggered by an unfolding ethics crisis at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, several Boston hospitals are warning physicians to publicly disclose all of their financial ties to pharmaceutical or medical device companies, The Boston Globe reports.

Memorial Sloan executives have been attempting to contain the fallout from a series of lapses since reports surfaced that its CMO José Baselga, MD, PhD, failed to disclose significant financial ties to the drug industry and other healthcare companies in more than 100 research articles. Dr. Baselga, a highly respected cancer researcher, resigned from his post following the report.

A few weeks later, Memorial Sloan Kettering's President and CEO Craig Thompson, MD, resigned from the boards of Merck and Charles River Laboratories, citing a need to focus more intently on hospital priorities.

The mounting problems in New York prompted a strongly worded memo from a Boston-based Partners HealthCare lawyer to physicians and researchers at three big Boston-hospitals Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Partners HealthCare.

The lawyer, Christopher Clark, said in the memo to researchers and physicians that academics don't often get in trouble for their relationships with industry; however, they lose public trust because they fail to disclose the relationships.

"These situations create a stain on the reputation of the individual involved that can never be erased; often the result is career-altering and sometimes career-ending," Mr. Clark wrote in the letter, according to The Globe. "They also generally reflect badly on the institution involved."

Several other Boston-based hospitals — Boston Children's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — are advising physicians to carefully review all submissions to medical journals to prevent any big fall out. In addition, the upheaval in New York prompted Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to review the outside positions held by physicians, including its CEO Laurie Glimcher, MD, who sits on the board of drug giant GlaxoSmithKline.

Read the full report here.

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