And it sounds like it pays well to be on one of these boards, according to this article in the Business Standard.
Pharmaceutical companies are furiously trying to set up research advisory boards and are scouring the globe for former research heads of pharmaceutical MNCs, faculty heads of research institutes and other drug research experts for the purpose...Why would such men join research advisory boards? They're paid relatively well for attending one or two meetings a year. The promoter of a big pharmaceutical company says that they're paid about $25,000, depending on the kind of work they're called on to do.
I believe this article is about pharma companies in India, not the U.S., but I'm sure we're doing it here, too--perhaps with less of a pricetag, I really don't know. But I bet those meetings are executed beautifully, for $25k a head! I'd love to learn more about this.