After a three-month search, the American Medical Association has selected a business-oriented physician as its third top executive in as many years.
Michael Maves, M.D., president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Washington, will be introduced as executive vice president when the AMA gathers in San Francisco for its midyear policy meeting beginning Dec. 1 (See story, p. 17).
Maves, 53, officially will take over the nation's oldest and largest doctors' group Jan. 15, replacing E. Ratcliffe "Andy" Anderson Jr., M.D., whose troubled tenure ended with a bitter parting in late June. Anderson, a former U.S. Air Force surgeon general, was fired 11 days after filing a $5 million lawsuit against the AMA alleging breach of contract and defamation of character.
A seasoned association executive with a master's degree in business administration, Maves has served since October 1999 as president of the 120-year-old CHPA, which represents U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and unregulated herbal and dietary supplements. The group has about 80 active members.
His involvement as the chief spokesman for the oft-controversial drug-industry trade group, which represents such pharmaceutical heavyweights as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer Corp., drew immediate criticism from some observers who have questioned the AMA's close ties to drug companies.
The AMA, which has about 290,000 U.S. physicians as members, came under fire from consumer activists earlier this year when it allowed major drug manufacturers to pay for an AMA educational effort aimed at limiting the influence of pharmaceutical sales representatives on physicians (June 18, p. 14).
In addition to those big drug companies, the CHPA also represents firms such as Herbalife, the Los Angeles-based manufacturer of over-the-counter products containing ephedra, a controversial weight-loss supplement.
Consumer advocate Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director of the Washington-based Public Citizen's Health Research Group, called Maves' selection "another chapter in the seemingly endless succession of extremely poor, dangerous choices" for the AMA's top job.
He said the CHPA paid for a Yale University study on the controversial decongestant and weight-reduction drug phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, and then disassociated itself from the results when they showed a significant increase in strokes among consumers using the drug. Furthermore, the CHPA's predecessor group, the Non-Prescription Drug Manufacturers Association, was involved in delaying warning labels on aspirin about the increased risk of Reye's syndrome in children with flu or chicken pox, Wolfe said.
Moreover, longstanding AMA policy appears to be at odds with positions the CHPA took with Maves as its chief executive. For instance, the AMA recommended last year that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration remove ephedra products from the market because of safety concerns. Maves' group opposed the position.
"I would urge all physicians who still cling to their AMA membership...to resign from this dying organization," Wolfe said.
An AMA spokesman discounted Wolfe's criticism, saying there is no "single litmus test" for a chief executive. "Judging from his experience, including his time in Washington, (Maves) has the right stuff," the spokesman said.
For his part, Maves said he brings a "background of success" to his new role at the AMA. "I look at this (job) as a calling," he said. "I think this is my chance to help an American institution grow and continue to improve and to make a difference."
Before his stint at the CHPA, Maves was executive vice president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery from 1994 to 1999. During that time, according to an AMA news release, Maves established the group's first political action committee, significantly heightened its visibility and increased corporate funding and nondues revenue-initiatives that also top the AMA's agenda.
He was a professor and chairman of the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the St. Louis University College of Medicine from 1988 to 1994.
"Dr. Maves is a proven leader who has distinguished himself across many fronts-academia, organized medicine and association management," said Timothy Flaherty, M.D., chairman of the AMA board of trustees. "The AMA is excited about the leadership and vision he will bring to our association."
Maves' appointment was the culmination of a nationwide search that began in early August, when the AMA hired a national executive search firm and began soliciting names of potential chief executives from more than 1,700 physician leaders.
The AMA public relations office would not comment on Maves' compensation. His predecessor was paid about $650,000 per year in salary and benefits. For his part, Maves would say only that he is "satisfied" with his compensation package.
He will take over during a troubled time at the AMA, which has lost membership in recent years and just emerged from the red after three years of losses. He also may face fallout from Anderson's potentially explosive lawsuit.
Maves, a former captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, received his medical degree from Ohio State University and his MBA from the University of Iowa College of Business Administration.