Questions raised about chancellor's investments in prescription drug and medical supply companies
The San Francisco Chronicle
July 2, 2010
Days after selling her tobacco stock and donating the proceeds to an anti-smoking program at UCSF, Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the public medical school and hospital system, is facing new questions about her investments. This time it's about companies that sell prescription drugs and medical supplies.
"The potential conflict is that the official in charge of the institution could push plans and research that directly benefit her financially," said Doug Heller, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, a consumer rights group based in Santa Monica.
Heller emphasized that there is no evidence of impropriety. And Desmond-Hellmann said she will recuse herself from decisions that might benefit her.
"But the perception lingers" when the head of a medical institution has a vested interest in certain drugs or research, Heller said.
The question is more than academic because UCSF and other universities are increasingly forging research partnerships with private companies. For example, last month, the Merck pharmaceutical company announced it would sponsor cancer drug trials around the world, including at UCSF. Desmond-Hellmann owns more than $1 million of stock in that drug company.