Surgeon Fined for Failure to Report Funds

UCSD neurosurgeon and clinical surgery professor William Taylor was fined for neglecting to report his ties to NuVasive Inc., a company that agreed to provide funding for four research projects focused on testing products for neurosurgery. He was charged $12,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Taylor, a specialist in minimally invasive spinal surgery at the UCSD Medical Center, failed to reveal the additional funding when filing his required forms to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

It was later discovered that Taylor received additional funding from NuVasive, a San Diego based company that manufactures products for spinal disorder surgeries.

The state-mandated form requires the researcher to disclose his or her economic interests in any non-governmental funding source.

Taylor claims that he did not deliberately conceal the NuVasive’s funding and took corrective action by discontinuing participation in the projects after realizing his mistake, according to the FPPC.

UCSD has recognized Taylor’s false declaration as an administrative error. He will still, however, have to pay a $12,000 fine, as determined by the FPPC. Taylor’s fine is $8,000 less than the maximum penalty for his violations, according to the FPPC.

“[Taylor] is not going to be fired,” Director of Health Sciences Press and Media Relations Jacqueline Carr said. “No patients were affected in his [trials]. The case was examined by UCSD, and it has been decided that no further action will be taken. He is a very respected surgeon.”

According to the FPPC, Taylor violated the Political Reform Act “by failing to disclose certain economic interests.”

Taylor is noted on four counts of such failed economic disclosures with NuVasive between July 2008 and Sept. 2009.

Taylor’s first violation was for his evaluation of NuVasive neurovision dilators in July 2008.

The second violation took place in March 2009, when Taylor used NuVasive funds to evaluate the clinical use of Pedicle screws, which are used to increase spinal stability.

Taylor’s third research project in violation of the FPPC focused on evaluating a Lumbar TDR device in June 2009.

In his fourth violation, Taylor asked UCSD’s Independent Review Committee to approve $16,821 from NuVasive on Sept. 29, 2009 to do research on degenerative disc disease patients, but failed to report the funding to the FPPC.

On the forms, Taylor stated that he had no economic interest in the non-governmental funding source.

In each case, however, the funds from NuVasive either served as an investment interest or a source of income for Taylor during the 12 months before the application date.

Of the four projects in question, Taylor turned over two to a new principal investigator. Taylor also discontinued one project before receiving any funds from NuVasive.

Taylor could not be reached for comment.

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