According to a new study out in the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. physicians are evil venture-fund-loving money-grubbers. Okay, the study doesn’t say precisely that, but it implies it strongly, mischievously pointing out that remarkably high numbers of U.S. physicians are tied to U.S. hedge funds and venture funds:
…the authors found about 75,000 expert clinicians and researchers now consult for hedge funds, stock analysts, venture capitalists or other sophisticated investors.
That’s up from 15,000 doctors who consulted in 2002, and fewer than 1,000 in 1996.
That is approximately one in ten U.S. physicians, and an even higher percentage, the paper argues, of academics who are closer to recent research and even more in demand by investment sorts.
Scary stuff, right? I’m not so sure.
Leaving aside whether this is a good thing or a bad thing (and I think there is a lot to be said for having investors better understand medical research, and for having medical researchers understand where investment is going), I’m skeptical of the numbers. While I grant that Gerson Lehrman and others are recruiting large numbers of experts to be on their advisor list, how many are actually doing anything? In other words, how much of this five-fold growth in investment-industry-linked experts touted by the JAMA paper is just puffer-fish posturing by emerging firms in this area? A lot, is my guess.