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    When a doctor is at center of political corruption scandal

    Full disclosure a ‘good thing’

     

    Sheldon Silver was, until recently, Speaker of the New York State Assembly. This post made him one of that state's two or three most powerful political figures. He was forced to resign his post when indicted for corruption.

    What, you may ask, is remarkable or newsworthy about a politician being accused of dishonesty? To me, the interesting aspect of this whole situation is the key role played by a physician.

    Blog: Caught between a husband and a wife: A cautionary surgical tale

    Robert Taub, MD, PhD, served for many years as director of the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center. From your days in medical school, you probably remember that this is truly a terrible disease. The doctor was researching better therapies for its victims.

    According to news reports, Dr. Taub saw mesothelioma patients in his center and allegedly “gave their names” to one or possibly two law firms that handle asbestosis litigation. One law firm received more than 100 of his patients and the ensuing legal actions brought in hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The referrals to these particular law firms, according to the reportage, was in return for “donations” from the law firms to a research fund overseen by the doctor. Dr. Taub asked Silver to encourage the firms to make these contributions.

    Silver allegedly also arranged for a "grant" of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for Dr. Taub's research. Those public funds were supposed to pay for research into the health impacts of the Sept. 11 attacks on The World Trade Center. Also, at least one report says donations were made by the lawyers to a non-profit organization on which Dr. Taub's wife was a board member.

     

    NEXT: Ethical considerations

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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