Top Cancer Doctor, Forced Out Over Ties to Drug Makers, Joins Their Ranks


AstraZeneca paid Dr. Baselga $28,750 for consulting work in 2013 and 2014 related to unspecified drugs, according to the federal database. He failed to disclose any relationships with companies, including AstraZeneca, in dozens of articles in recent years.

Dr. Baselga, 59, is an expert in breast cancer research and played a key role in the development of Herceptin by Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche. He came to Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2013 after serving as chief of hematology and oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Before that, he was a leader at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain.

Since September, Dr. Baselga has corrected his conflict-of-interest disclosures in several journals, including in The New England Journal of Medicine and in Cancer Discovery. In a note that accompanied Dr. Baselga’s correction in The New England Journal of Medicine, editors described his failure as a “breach of trust.”

AstraZeneca’s decision to hire Dr. Baselga is part of an effort by the drug maker to focus more directly on cancer research, which has generated extensive interest from investors and companies in recent years amid a series of breakthroughs. The company sells several cancer drugs, including the lung cancer drug Tagrisso and Lynparza, which treats a number of cancers. It has suffered some recent setbacks, such as a failed trial of its lung cancer drug Imfinzi.

Under the company’s new structure, Dr. Baselga will oversee the development of cancer drugs from early research to late-stage clinical trials, and a separate research unit will focus on other disease areas. Each unit will have its own commercial team to promote the products.

“This new structure will support growth and sharpen the focus on our main therapy areas, speeding up decisions and making us more productive in our mission to bring innovative medicines to patients,” Mr. Soriot said in the statement.

In the same statement, Dr. Baselga described his new role as a “dream job” and said the reorganization will “accelerate our work to bring transformative medicines to patients.”

Charles Ornstein is a senior editor at ProPublica.

Source : Nytimes