Trade Group Chief to Lead AMA

Monday, November 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ The American Medical Association on Monday named as its new top executive the president of a trade group for the over-the-counter drug and dietary supplement industries.

Dr. Michael D. Maves replaces Dr. E. Ratcliffe Anderson, fired in June in a dispute about his authority over the nation's largest group of physicians.

The AMA touted Maves' previous involvement in other medical groups, including a five-year stint as executive vice president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

But his appointment drew immediate fire from AMA critics, who said his efforts on behalf of the unregulated dietary supplement industry will undermine the AMA's reputation.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the consumer-oriented Public Citizen Health Research Group, said the appointment is ``bringing in someone who's championed snake oil _ that's what these products basically are.''

``It's now inviting into their bed an even wider circle of pharmaceutical influence,'' Wolfe said.

It's ``a very odd choice,'' said Dr. Jerome Kassirer, professor at Tufts and Yale University and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Maves, 53, is a head and neck physician who leads the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a 120-year-old national trade association representing U.S. makers of nonprescription drugs and dietary supplements.

As the AMA's new executive vice president and chief executive officer, he will be in charge of the AMA's day-to-day business operations starting Jan. 15. His appointment was approved by the AMA's board of trustees.

The AMA board chairman, Dr. Timothy Flaherty, said Maves ``is a proven leader who has distinguished himself across many fronts _ academia, organized medicine and association management.''

The job has been vacant since Anderson was fired in June. His three-year stint ended in a dispute over a multimillion-dollar land deal involving AMA property in downtown Chicago.

Anderson had alleged trustees took away his power to fire the AMA's lawyer after he complained the lawyer had negotiated an undervalued sale price for the property.

Anderson headed the AMA as it tried to recover from a botched deal with Sunbeam Corp., which drew heavy criticism and was blamed for a large loss of members. The deal would have had the AMA endorse the manufacturer's products in exchange for including AMA educational materials with them.

The AMA represents about one-third of the nation's 800,000-plus doctors, residents and medical students, down about 10 percent from a decade ago.