Memorial Sloan Kettering paid $1.5M severance to CMO forced out over disclosure failures

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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has paid more than $1.5 million in severance to its former CMO, who resigned in 2018 after he did not disclose financial ties to healthcare companies in research papers he authored, according to The New York Times.

IRS filings show the New York hospital paid the severance to José Baselga, MD, PhD, in 2018 and 2019. A spokesperson for the hospital told the Times that payments reflect its "contractual obligation" to Dr. Baselga under his employment agreement. The hospital would not say whether it paid additional severance to Dr. Baselga in 2020.

Dr. Baselga resigned in September 2018, shortly after an analysis by the Times and ProPublica revealed how he failed to disclose significant financial relationships in the industry in more than 100 papers he authored in the previous five years. The omissions reportedly included payments totaling millions of dollars. At the time, he said the lapses in disclosure were unintentional and that his industry work was known among the public.

The incident prompted Memorial Sloan Kettering to change its conflict-of-interest policy, barring executives from serving on corporate boards of drug and healthcare companies. 

Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca hired Dr. Baselga in 2019 to head its oncology research and development unit.

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