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Harvard Hospitals Set New Rules for High Ranking Doctors, Executives

Jan 5, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

High-ranking doctors and executives at two Harvard-affiliated hospitals will no longer be able to receive unlimited compensation or stock in return for sitting on the boards of drug companies or biotechnology firms.  According to The Boston Globe, the new restrictions, which were effective last Friday, are part of a new conflicts-of-interest policy instituted by Partners Healthcare, a medical system that includes Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospital.

The new conflict-of-interest policy was announced by Partners Healthcare in the spring, and has been implemented in stages. Other rules include a ban on gifts and free meals from drug and device makers. Free drug samples are also not allowed. Instead, such samples must be provided through a hospital pharmacy or another central mechanism. Sales reps are no longer able to visit staff unless they have “written invitations defining the purpose and terms of visits.”

According to the Boston Globe, the new conflicts policy at Partners Healthcare is similar to what many other teaching hospitals have implemented. However, the rules limiting compensation for sitting on company boards goes further than anything set by similar institution. 

Under the new rules for high ranking physicians and executives, pay for attending outside board meetings is limited to $500 per hour, or $5,000 for a 10 hour board meeting. They are also completely banned from taking company stock as compensation. The new policy also bans doctors from traveling the country as paid members of drug company “speaker’s bureaus.’’

The new rules affect 25 vice presidents, clinical department heads, and other top executives who are directors for some of the nation’s leading drug companies, the Globe said.

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