Harvard hospitals sharply limit pharma pay

In a move that's sure to be dissected--and possibly imitated--two Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals have imposed new rules restricting outside pay for senior officials. The new conflict-of-interest policy put in place by Partners Healthcare at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's Hospitals appears to be the most restrictive among all academic medical centers, the New York Times reports.

Here's the gist: Two dozen senior hospital officials who also sit on the boards of drugmakers or biotechs can accept only $5,000 per day of actual work for those boards. They can't accept stock for their services, either. Previously, some of these officials were paid more than $200,000 per year for their service on corporate boards.

Plus, Partners is outlawing speaker's fees from drug companies for any employee, including some 8,000 who also serve on Harvard's faculty.

That's quite a change, and an unprecedented one at that. Other teaching hospitals have imposed limits or bans on speaking fees, but no other academic medical center has gone so far in restricting board-of-directors pay, the Times reports. Other teaching hospitals are considering limits on board-service compensation, some banning that pay altogether and others allowing up to $10,000, the Association of American Medical Colleges tells the paper.

It's part of the growing trend toward limiting the financial ties between drug companies, doctors, researchers, and medical schools. Eugene Braunwald, a Harvard professor who chaired the policy-writing committee, says the environment has changed drastically. "In all fairness," he tells the NYT, "what was O.K. three years ago is not O.K. now."

- get the NYT article

ALSO: The Medical Council of India has issued new guidelines for doctors' interaction with drugmakers, including a ban on "any kind of hospitality" from the pharma industry. Report