Academic Medical Center Leadership on Pharmaceutical Company Boards of Directors | Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology | JAMA | JAMA Network
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Research Letter
April 2, 2014

Academic Medical Center Leadership on Pharmaceutical Company Boards of Directors

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JAMA. 2014;311(13):1353-1355. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.284925

Financial relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians have come under increased scrutiny. Less attention has been paid to relationships between industry and the leadership of academic medical centers (AMCs), who wield considerable influence over research, clinical, and educational missions.

When AMC leaders serve on pharmaceutical company boards, they hold a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to promote the financial success of the company, which may conflict or compete with institutional oversight responsibilities and individual clinical and research practices.1 The potential conflict between responsibilities of individuals who hold leadership roles in both industry and academia deserves exploration.

We studied the prevalence of AMC leaders on pharmaceutical company boards of directors. Data on board composition and academic positions were collected in January 2013 from the websites of the 50 largest pharmaceutical companies based on 2012 global prescription drug sales.2 Financial compensation for individuals who served the entirety of 2012 was collected from 2013 company proxy statements from the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s public database3 and from 2012 shareholder reports.