Pharmaceutical Companies Lavishly Compensate Leaders of Academic Medical Centers


Leaders of medical schools and hospitals receive much more compensation from pharmaceutical companies than the doctors who have previously been scrutinized for drug company ties, according to a study released today by the Journal of the American Medical Association. 40% of the world’s largest drug companies had at least on board member who also served in leadership at a U.S. academic medical center, according to the study, with average annual compensation of $313,000.

Anderson, T., Dave, S., Good, C., Gellad, W.; Academic Medical Center Leadership on Pharmaceutical Company Boards of Directors. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2014;311(13):1353-1355. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.284925. Online April 2

See also:
At first glance… (1 Boring Old Man)
Leaders of Teaching Hospitals Have Close Ties to Drug Companies, Study Shows (ProPublica)
Medical school leaders cash in on drug company boards (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

From the Journal Sentinel:

“These relationships present potentially far-reaching consequences beyond those created when individual physicians consult with industry or receive gifts,” the researchers wrote.

Others who were not a part of the paper said such lucrative moonlighting for drug companies with vested interests simply should not be done by university leaders who oversee independent research and the instruction of medical practitioners.

“I don’t know how they can manage a conflict like that,” said Susan Chimonas, an expert on conflicts of interest in medicine. “My gosh, there is so much money they are making for a little side job.”

Serving in dual roles raises so many potential conflicts that it would be wiser to eliminate them, said Chimonas, associate director of research for Columbia University’s Center on Medicine as a Profession.

Previous article11 Things We Do That Make Us Miserable
Next articleWhy Don’t They Know? A Letter to My Doctor
Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I am worried about many things in our country today…one big one is the impact of corporations, in this case, pharmaceutical companies, on our political and scientific systems. These drug companies feed the public propaganda and seriously corrupt both our (no longer democratic)political process and our (un)scientific research, as described in this article. I am convinced that we need strong laws that prevent these obvious conflicts of interest. Otherwise, we must admit that what ‘scientists’ claim to be research results are actually drug company promotional materials. These ‘researchers’ are actually functioning as drug company sales representatives not independent, unbiased scientists.

    Report comment

  2. Have a look at what they get in Ireland, the thing is these Universities are supposed to be Public. In Ireland the same people that do the ‘Research’, control the Psychiatric Services.
    Its a bit like a private members club.

    Report comment