The Influentials: Dr. Steven E. Nissen

Chairman, Cleveland Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine

Dr. Steven Nissen is America’s self-appointed big-pharma watchdog. He’s not afraid to set the story straight when his research uncovers bad news about blockbuster drugs such as Vioxx and Vytorin. “I can’t consider financial implications — it’s always about patients first,” he says. Even though he’s cost the pharmaceutical companies millions of dollars, they still value his credentials and hire him as a consultant. But Nissen won’t accept the handsome honoraria drug companies offer — an amount he also won’t disclose. “People would be shocked,” he says. He requests that those checks go to charities and local institutions such as the Cleveland Museum of Art. These days, Nissen carves time from his role as head of the Cleveland Clinic’s heart program to influence national health care reform. We think he’ll get his word in. After all, his reputation extends well beyond the city.Timemagazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007.

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