AMCP 2019-2020 President James Kenney Addresses AMCP Annual Meeting 2019 General Session

 James Kenney took the helm as 2019-2020 AMCP President at the Annual Meeting last week in San Diego. The following is a lightly edited version of his inaugural address at the General Session. 

I’m happy to be here in San Diego and enjoy weather that is a bit warmer than the 30-40 degrees of my hometown. I find that wherever I go, this ever so slight accent or my passion for our hometown sports teams quickly gives me away. To be clear, I've never “parked my car in Harvard Yard!” However, I do enjoy a “wicked good lobstah roll!” In case there was any doubt — I am from Boston.

This is truly an honor for me to serve as President of AMCP. I have been a member for thirty years as evidenced by my member number of 51. I joined AMCP as a charter member when the pharmacy benefit was evolving, and prescription copays were $3-$5 and I knew there was a need for a professional organization that represented the interests and challenges associated with the ambulatory portion of pharmaceutical care delivery.

When I first joined, the motive was simple: AMCP provided a forum where health care professionals could exchange ideas, network, obtain professional education and explore common interests. Walking around the San Diego Convention Hall I am amazed and impressed at how much we have grown. I am also proud of how the AMCP annual meeting continues to deliver on this promise to foster connections among managed care professionals and deliver best-in-class educational programming.

As Susan noted earlier, we are facing a time of unprecedented change that includes new models for health care. Now, more than ever the perspective of the managed care pharmacy professional is essential if we are to work together to identify solutions that help address the cost of medications and therapies.

A new focus on value and outcomes-based contracting is drawing significant interest and attention by our colleagues. We want to be sure that the products and services that we provide deliver improved outcomes while promoting cost-effective benefits.

It’s an incredibly dynamic time with a number of factors that require our collective experience: We’re seeing a wide expansion of generic drug offerings. We’re also going to see an explosion in terms of gene therapies, digital therapeutics, and other innovative new therapies.

These emerging opportunities are going to require that we work across the health care sector. Tools that AMCP has helped develop, such as the pharmaceutical information exchange, are essential in helping us move toward a value-based care model. We're going to also have to work with our colleagues to explore new funding mechanisms in health care. It's not going to be easy, but as I look out across the room, I see the people that can do it.

And I can tell you that having just been on Capitol Hill with Susan and some of our other board members and volunteer leaders, there is great interest on both sides of the aisle to work with us to use managed care pharmacy principles to inform new and improved approaches to health care. We need legislative relief to allow for pharmaceutical information exchange and the further development of outcomes-based contracts in the market.

For me, this commitment is grounded in a very simple passion-- the patient.

In my former role as a P&T committee member, I was always passionately advocating on behalf of the patients. I remember one time we were in an annual formulary review meeting where there was talk of removing an epilepsy medication from the formulary used by only 14 patients. This medication provided an option for patients who had failed many other products. I advocated for keeping it on the formulary.

Although the physicians on the committee often viewed me as the "money guy" -- they looked over and said, "You're right."

Managed care is routinely reported and often focused on cost.

We often hear, “It's always about the money.” At the end of the day, there's a patient who is impacted by the decisions that we make. We must work together to develop the right path that aligns the interests of all parties involved -- the health care providers, benefit managers and the pharmaceutical industry.

However, in doing so, let's agree to never forget that our work is always about patient health and achieving the best possible outcome. And speaking of outcomes, I wanted to pause and extend heart-felt congratulations to Susan Cantrell and the work of her dedicated and hardworking staff at AMCP in creating the new brand and working to help us tell our story to more people.

Let's take a moment to examine our new identity and the logic behind it: The hexagonal shape -- which all of us in pharmacy know-- is a fundamental unit in organic chemistry.

It's a useful reminder of the categories of therapies that make up modern pharmacy-- basic chemistry on the one end and complex biologics and gene therapies on the other. Seems like a perfect visual metaphor for what managed care pharmacy stands for-- efficiency and effectiveness.

And the tagline -- Optimizing medicine. Improving lives -- is an important reminder of what I noted earlier. While we’re all committed to improving overall health care, our efforts are grounded in a collective commitment to the health and well-being of the individual patient.

I encourage you to continue to be an advocate for patients, promote practical legislation that supports the management and delivery of health care benefits-- and drives cost effective and “best in class” outcomes. Thank you for your support in electing me as President of AMCP, and I look forward to “Optimizing medicine and improving lives.”