[Ip-health] New York Times: Think Tank Scholar or Corporate Consultant? It Depends on the Day

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Aug 9 00:17:11 PDT 2016



At the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, Dr. Mark B. McClellan
<http://www.brookings.edu/experts/mcclellanm> led a health care studies
program as he served on the board of directors
Johnson & Johnson, where he waspaid $264,899
fiscal year. The company sells a high-cost hepatitis C treatment, an
approach that Dr. McClellan defended from his Brookings perch.


Some scholars add another twist: They serve on corporate boards directly
related to their areas of expertise at think tanks.

Dr. McClellan, a former commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration
who until January was a senior fellow at Brookings, has been a go-to expert
for the federal government as it debates how to cope with surging costs of
prescription drugs.

At public events, Dr. McClellan emphasized the extraordinary progress by
the pharmaceutical industry in coming up with treatments for diseases like
diabetes, H.I.V. and hepatitis C.

“Lots of diseases have been transformed,” Dr. McClellan said at a hearing in
<http://www.hhs.gov/hhs-pharmaceutical-forum/index.html> November
<http://www.hhs.gov/hhs-pharmaceutical-forum/index.html> sponsored by the
Department of Health and Human Services. He ran through a series of slides
prominently stamped with Brookings’s name. He also argued that even though
these drugs were very expensive, they were worth it given the improvement
in a patient’s quality of life.

“They are, over all, a pretty good deal,” Dr. McClellan said
referring to treatments for hepatitis C. One such drug, manufactured by
Johnson & Johnson, generated $2.3 billion
sales in its first full year, representing about 7 percent of the company’s
overall drug sales in 2014. The pills cost $66,000 for a standard 12-week

There was no mention in a video of the event that Dr. McClellan joined
Johnson & Johnson’s board of directors in October 2013, or that he earned
nearly $530,000 over the past two years
<http://www.investor.jnj.com/secfiling.cfm?filingid=1193125-15-86512&cik=> in
overall compensation from the company. That is in addition to his salary at
Brookings, where he is one of the top-paid scholars, with $353,145 in wages
and other compensation from the think tank in 2014, tax records show.

Dr. McClellan, in a statement, disputed any suggestion that he might have
had a conflict.

“My entire career in academics, government and public policy has focused on
evidence-based ways to improve health and restrain costs for consumers, and
my extensive track record speaks for itself,” he said.

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