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Special Communication |

Physicians and Insider Trading

Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH1; Michael S. Sinha, MD, JD, MPH2; Steven Joffe, MD, MPH3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
2Department of Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
3Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(12):1955-1959. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.5610.
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Although insider trading is illegal, recent high-profile cases have involved physicians and scientists who are part of corporate governance or who have access to information about clinical trials of investigational products. Insider trading occurs when a person in possession of information that might affect the share price of a company’s stock uses that information to buy or sell securities—or supplies that information to others who buy or sell—when the person is expected to keep such information confidential. The input that physicians and scientists provide to business leaders can serve legitimate social functions, but insider trading threatens to undermine any positive outcomes of these relationships. We review insider-trading rules and consider approaches to securities fraud in the health care field. Given the magnitude of the potential financial rewards, the ease of concealing illegal conduct, and the absence of identifiable victims, the temptation for physicians and scientists to engage in insider trading will always be present. Minimizing the occurrence of insider trading will require robust education, strictly enforced contractual provisions, and selective prohibitions against high-risk conduct, such as participation in expert consulting networks and online physician forums, by those individuals with access to valuable inside information.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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