It is not often that you find one job that enables you to bring together everything you have learned professionally and personally, but it is true of my new role as president and CEO of the National Pharmaceutical Council. I’m grateful to start a job where I can bring my full expertise, and it is exciting to begin at a time when our member companies have made such an important contribution to human health.
More than 165 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. They are 165 million Americans who, just in the last few months, have personally benefited from the years of hard work and research from the biopharmaceutical industry.
My mom was one of those 165 million. I waited with her at a public health clinic in Sarasota, Florida, to get her shot. The patients and public health workers there that day enthusiastically told me of the impact these vaccines have had on their lives and those who passed through the clinic. Every jab given that day was a tangible reminder to me of our industry’s commitment not just to Sarasota, but to communities across the globe.
As I step into my new job, I am reminded that all the roles I have played previously — whether as a son, a pharmacist, insurance executive, member of my community — have given me different and meaningful perspectives on health care and the challenges and opportunities we face in improving our system for everyone.
As a son, I have seen firsthand the critical role that medicines – and access to them – play in maintaining and improving the health of our seniors. Indeed, these medicines have helped my parents transition from cancer patients to cancer survivors. I want everyone’s parents to have access to the medicines they need to stay healthy. America’s seniors are awaiting the next round of breakthroughs, and it’s critical that we ensure we never trade away science’s ability to deliver tomorrow’s cures.
As a pharmacist, I understand that small differences in molecular structure can translate to big differences in individualized care, and that those working in the pharmaceutical industry have a proud history as pioneers who have dedicated their careers to uncovering these breakthroughs. The current pricing debate seeks to minimize this history and threatens the future of drug development.
As an insurance executive, I understand the way that population health, benefit design and consumer and employee behavior converge to create the health care system we have today. And I’ve seen the way that incentives can work for and against patients, sometimes driving patients to high-quality care, and sometimes pushing Americans into insurance policies that harm them. I’ve also seen firsthand the role that pharmacy benefit managers play in creating the rebate game and the way that middlemen can add costs to the system.
As a federal health official, I’ve worked on implementing changes to our health care system and recognize how changes in one industry can reverberate through every part of health care. I’ve seen the difference that solid research, people with expertise, and the ability to truly listen can make in fashioning solutions that work in the real world.
NPC will continue to work with all partners, across all sectors. Creating a sustainable health system means that we should not be thinking in terms of winners and losers, but rather, acknowledging that everyone’s future is dependent on access and innovation.
In my newest role, moving the health care system in a positive direction means doubling down on NPC’s core areas of focus to ensure access to high-value care. To have successful policy solutions, we need evidence- and science-based research that examines challenging issues facing our health care system today. And we can’t consider that research in a vacuum: NPC will continue to work with all partners, across all sectors. Creating a sustainable health system means that we should not be thinking in terms of winners and losers, but rather, acknowledging that everyone’s future is dependent on access and innovation.
There’s another thing that won’t change: I’m committed to working with anyone who wants to help improve patient access to medicines. I’m going to keep engaging in healthy and constructive dialogue with everyone. Those who know me know that I’ll show up anywhere and speak with anyone, not because I want to triumph in a debate, but because the honest exchange of views is the only way to understand the different perspectives that are needed to move us forward.
This is an open invitation. If you want to connect with me – as a pharmacist, an insurance executive, a former government official, or most important, as both the head of NPC and an individual with a deeply personal interest in a better health care system – to discuss patient access to innovative medicines, I look forward to hearing from you.