UnitedHealth’s Tuckson takes director post at biopharma company
UnitedHealth clears exec to serve on vendor board
Aprominent physician-executive with UnitedHealth Group has taken a seat on the board of a biopharmaceutical company, and a representative from the insurance company said it reviewed and cleared the appointment for potential conflicts of interest.
Dr. Reed Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs at the Minnetonka, Minn.-based insurer, was appointed to the board of directors for Cell Therapeutics, a Seattle-based developer of oncology products.
The Cell Therapeutics news release noted that Tuckson, who made Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Healthcare and Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare lists last year, “oversees the clinically related programs of the company’s six operating businesses and the work of more than 10,000 clinically related personnel.”
According to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commisson, Tuckson will receive a base retainer of $40,000 plus 18,000 restricted shares of CTI common stock. He will also be eligible to receive a $2,750 fee for attending board meetings—either in person or over the telephone—and $1,250 for attending any board committee meetings.
Jane Pennington, Tuckson’s chief of staff, said there is no conflict of interest, noting that UnitedHealth relies on a third party for recommendations of any oncology drug formularies.
“Dr. Tuckson’s participation on this board will deepen his knowledge in both innovation and emerging options in healthcare,” Pennington wrote in an e-mail. Pennington said the company’s chief compliance and ethics officer reviews potential board positions and can advise employees to decline the appointment or “set up terms and processes for recusals where appropriate.”
According to a UnitedHealth news release from Feb. 9, 2010, the company uses clinical and claims data from more than 2,600 oncologists and 8,600 patients to compare and evaluate the quality of care breast, colon and lung cancer patients receive as determined by the guidelines developed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network alliance of 21 leading cancer centers.
The insurance industry trade organization America’s Health Insurance Plans has no guidance to offer in these types of situations, spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said.
Tuckson, an internist and former senior vice president of professional standards for the American Medical Association, also serves on the boards of the Alliance for Health Reform, the American Telemedicine Association, the National Patient Advocate Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, Project Sunshine and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
In the news release, Cell Therapeutics CEO Dr. James Bianco praised Tuckson’s “unwavering consumer health advocacy and commitment to patient welfare.”
In an essay published in the July 25 issue of Modern Healthcare, Tuckson wrote that, “We also should worry that, as our system becomes even more ‘modern’ through the inevitable advances in molecular science, pharmaceuticals and medical technology, our already-challenged delivery system is in great danger of becoming more complex, inefficient and more costly.”