Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Feb. 22, 2005

David Corcoran
Science Desk
The New York Times

Dear Mr. Corcoran:

The Times reported on Feb. 21 that Dr. David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, who also has a consulting gig with ViroLogic, has "disclosed all of his ties to the company."

Putting aside for the moment the fact that Ho has allegedly fully disclosed links with ViroLogic, even though the ties are not posted on the Aaron Diamond web site, if he made the disclosures to the Times, an important question about his owning stock in the company must be raised related to your coverage.

Christos Petropoulos, director of research and development for ViroLogic, gave an interview last week with new York's Gay City News and confirmed what many Ho and ViroLogic critics had long suspected--Ho owns shares in the company. Why the Times sees this matter as unimportant is hard to fathom.

"Ho has received ViroLogic stock options during his time with the company, according to Petropoulos. With the company stock trading at around $2.50 a share, Ho will not reap great rewards from that relationship.

'I think it’s safe to say that none of our scientific advisory board members are getting rich,' Petropoulos said," according to the gay publication. (Source: http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_360/expertsquestion.html )

One thing Petropoulos forgot to mention is that they may not be getting rich because the company's long-standing financial troubles plague their stock and profits.

If Ho indeed fully disclosed his ViroLogic ties to the Times, why have you not reported on his owning stock in the company?

On the other hand, if Ho did not make the Times aware of his stock ownership, it shows he was not fully disclosing his conflicts of interest.

In any event, I think the Times in future stories about the drug-resistant mutant HIV strain in New York that mention Ho and ViroLogic, the paper will inform readers that Ho owns shares in the company.


Michael Petrelis

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