COI failure fallout

Jose Baselga’s resignation from MSKCC is sending shock waves through academia

Jose Baselga resigned as CMO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center after being accused of failing to disclose conflicts of interest, upsetting a hornet’s nest on his way out the door that is causing academic institutions and biopharma companies around the country to reassess how they communicate about their collaborations.

The Baselga case points out the flaws in a system in which funders, medical centers, universities and journals have passed the buck on accountability.

There’s broad consensus that transparency around conflict of interest (COI) is necessary. But the issue has metastasized into a widespread public perception that all financial interactions between researchers and industry are corrupting, and that any lapse in reporting ties is evidence of malfeasance.

In the absence of rules from funders about what must be publicly disclosed, peer-reviewed journals have become the arbiters of virtue.

While Congress has eschewed responsibility for distinguishing good from bad financial relationships, it has also effectively deputized the public to police ambiguous and inconsistent journal policies by creating public payment databases.

Now, universities are scrambling to tighten their reporting requirements and determine their risk.

Universities that receive NIH funding are required to identify and manage potential

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