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Cancer Doc Failed to Report $138,000 Payment From Celgene As Probe Continues

Written by: | | Dated: Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) yesterday published data indicating that New York University of Rochester professor emeritus John Bennett received $138,986 in compensation from Celgene Corporation (CELG) despite indicating no conflict of interest on a paper published in support of the company’s drug Revlimid.


In May 2014, Bennett and eight authors published a paper in the journal Leukemia titled “Extended survival and reduced risk of AML progression in erythroid-responsive lenalidomide-treated patients with lower-risk del(5q) MDS.” Lenalidomide is marketed by Celgene under the name Revlimid. The other eight authors reported their connection to Celgene, whether they received honoraria and research funding or were employees. Bennett declared “no conflict of interest.”

The story was reported yesterday in BloombergBusiness. In an interview with Bloomberg, Bennett said, “That research and data collection was under contract. It should have been a disclosure.”

In an email to Leukemia, Bennett wrote, “This clearly was an error that was missed by me when reviewing the final version and I would like to have a correction issued as a brief letter to the editor in the next available issue.”

In other published papers, Bennett has reported his financial ties to Celgene, which at least suggests that this was, indeed, just an oversight.

In the acknowledgments for the paper, it also does indicate that the study was supported by Celgene Corporation.

Further examination of Celgene Corporation records on the CMS OpenPaymentsData website indicate the company in 2014 made 76,576 Total General Transactions totaling $18,317,861.37, and 2,437 Total Research Transactions worth $31,732,980.53.

The website further breaks payments down by physicians and is quite granular, indicating Food and Beverage payments, which are often for figures such as $13.06, Space Rental, Travel and Lodging, Charitable Donations and Consulting Fees.

The journal Leukemia is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics, which provides a Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines For Journal Editors. It states, “The Best Practice Guidelines are more aspirational and were developed in response to requests from editors for guidance about a wide range of increasingly complex ethical issues.

While COPE expects all members to adhere to the Code of Conduct for Journal Editors (and will consider complaints against members who have not allowed it), we realize that editors may not be able to implement all the Best Practice recommendations (which are therefore voluntary), but we hope that our suggestions will identify aspects of journal policy and practice that should be reviewed and discussed.”

Bennett declined to discuss the issue further with other than to indicate that what he said in the Bloomberg article still stands, it was an honest error. And as indicated, he has taken steps to correct the issue.


July 2, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff


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