A Blog by AMCP CEO Susan Cantrell




Speech at General Session of AMCP Nexus 2017 

October 31, 2017

It’s wonderful to be here in Texas. AMCP has many longtime members and friends from the great Lone Star State, including many from right here in the Dallas region. We also have many members from the Houston area. Our heart goes out to everyone in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, as well as all of the other recent storms and now the wild fires in California. 

It’s gratifying to know that so many pharmacists have rolled up their sleeves during these events to help and care for vulnerable patients. Managed care pharmacy also stepped up, with PBMs and health plans ensuring their members could get medications under dire conditions. You can help too. This week, a portion of the socks we collect through the AMCP Foundation’s sock drive will go to needy residents in Houston and the Gulf Region. 

One final bit of housekeeping: October is American Pharmacist Month and AMCP has the pleasure of celebrating it with you here at Nexus. Congratulations to all the pharmacists with us today. 

“AMCP Nexus 2017: changing the way we pay for health care.” So why this theme? And why this year?

We are in the midst of a revolution in reimbursement. The shift towards value-based health care is transforming the entire health care system, including how we go about our work. And let’s be honest. A primary impetus behind this sea change is cost. 

Health care costs are rising faster than inflation. And the general consensus is that this trend is unsustainable!

We agree. AMCP is deeply engaged in finding solutions to rising costs. And we know that costs are on your minds as you work to ensure the wise use of health care resources. 

Given the urgency of this issue, the AMCP board of directors and staff recently engaged in a deep dive of the cost question from many angles. What was the response? 

In a word, “value.” 

We’ve long said that cost shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. A medication with a high cost isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if, for example, it cures the disease and avoids far more expensive treatments down the road. That’s simply good value!

Our three value messages are:

FIRST: Managed care creates better value by maximizing health outcomes for patients.

  • This can be seen through such things as our members’ MTM practices that reduce the number of medicines some patients have to take, while ensuring they receive the most appropriate options.

SECOND: We identify and reward therapeutic value by promoting the use of real-world evidence and tools. 

  • This can be seen every day in the evidence-based work of P&T committees, which evaluate therapies to identify and incentivize the most effective and cost-effective options. 

And THIRD: We advocate for value through a competitive marketplace, along with policies that promote access to multiple treatment options.

  • This can be seen in efforts to help ensure that the increasing number of lower-cost biosimilars in the market are widely utilized and accepted. 

These are just some of the examples of how AMCP and managed care pharmacy are addressing costs by providing value. Stay tuned…you’ll be hearing more from us on this topic in the near future.

Still on the topic of value, I’d like to mention our work in the area of value-based contracting. 

A decade ago, the idea of linking the cost of a therapy to its performance was considered revolutionary. Today, value-based contracting is seen as a potential solution to both improving patient care and better managing costs. 

I’m proud to say AMCP has taken a leadership role in this arena. Our recent partnership forum on this topic brought together diverse stakeholders who made significant progress in such areas as: 

  • Defining value-based contracting; 
  • Understanding performance metrics for value; 
  • Overcoming patient-management hurdles; 
  • Identifying “early adoption” opportunities; and 
  • Addressing legal and regulatory changes needed to drive adoption of these contracts. 

The proceedings from this event are hot off the presses and available on our website. We will be following up on this topic…again, stay tuned.

And, of course, this year’s Nexus programming reflects our deep commitment to value:  

  • The AMCP Foundation yesterday, for example, held a research symposium on “Value-Based Health Care: Identifying Benefits for Patients, Providers & Payers.” 
  • Today’s keynote panel of experts will discuss new and emerging payment models, including those based on value. 
  • We have an entire track on “changing the way we pay for health care.”
  • The current issue of the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy is titled “Value: Changing the Way We Pay for Health Care.”
  • And at the conclusion of Nexus, we will hold another partnership forum on “Patient Reported Outcomes – The Missing Link in Defining Value.”

Yes, value is our new mantra! 

My grandfather had an old Texas saying: “all hat and no cattle.” I can assure you that AMCP is not simply wearing a hat on the cost question! We are deeply engaged in the grasses — where the cattle are — looking for solutions, testing new ideas, bringing stakeholders to the table. We won’t rest until we can ensure all Americans: 


  • Have access to affordable medicines. 
  • Have improved health outcomes. 
  • And that we’ve fulfilled our mission of “improving health care for all!”

Thank you for listening, and have a wonderful conference!



As the ACA's Future Remains in Limbo, PIE Legislation Moves Steadily Forward

September 28, 2017

Health care reform historically has been one of the most contentious issues on Capitol Hill. The current fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is just the latest in a string of battles that reaches back many decades, including to the founding of Medicare and Medicaid. Read more.


AMCP Offers Prayers, Collects Items for Victims of Hurricane Harvey; Will Deliver Portion of Socks Collected by AMCP Foundation to Houston Charities

September 5, 2017

Like everyone across the country, AMCP members and staff share a deep concern for the safety and wellbeing of thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Read More.

NEJM Article on ‘Accelerated Approvals and Expensive Drugs’ Misses Promising Solution 


August 21, 2017  

A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) caught my attention for a couple of reasons. Read More


Leading on Today’s Most Pressing Challenges: AMCP Partnership Forum Develops Action Plan for Advancing Value-Based Contracting


June 29, 2017 

One of the many things that I’m proud of at AMCP is our role as a convener. We bring together several times a year key stakeholders representing a diverse range of positions to address common health care challenges. Read More. 


My Recent "Field Trip" to Arizona Highlights AMCP's Breadth and Depth


May 31, 2017 

One maxim I hold dear is the value of getting out of the office now and then to see how things are working in the field. I had that opportunity recently with a “field trip” to the beautiful state of Arizona, where I participated in several events: a workshop on strategies to strengthen association governance, a conference on integrating data in pharmacy practice, a visit with student pharmacists, and a tour of an innovative MTM service center. ... Read more


AMCP Nexus 2017 Theme Announced: “Changing the Way We Pay for Health Care”


May 2, 2017 

Volume to value, quantity to quality: such transitions in health care today are like a rock tossed in a pond. The ripple effects are far-reaching and unstoppable. So important is this transformation that we’re dedicating a significant amount of programming to the topic at our fall conference in Dallas (Oct. 16-19). In fact, we’re calling it “AMCP Nexus 2017: Changing the Way We Pay for Health Care.” ... Read more.


Eye on the Hill: AMCP Sees Progress in PIE Bill and Will Continue to Promote Comprehensive Pharmacy Benefit in Health Care Reform Efforts


April 11, 2017 

Whoever said, “May you live in interesting times,” could have been talking about Congressional health care policy debates circa 2017. Never a dull moment!

Many things are happening on the health care legislative front, and AMCP has been in the thick of it. ... Read more.


AMCP Celebrates Early Win: FDA Issues Draft Guidance to Improve Communications Between Biopharmaceutical Companies and Population Health Decision Makers


March 1, 2017 

Every morning — like many of you — I settle behind my desk, take a sip of coffee and read the AMCP Daily Dose. This publication, full of valuable news and information, frequently highlights issues and individuals we’re featuring at our Annual Meeting, March 27-30, in Denver. Several caught my eye recently. ... Read more.


AMCP Celebrates Early Win: FDA Issues Draft Guidance to Improve Communications Between Biopharmaceutical Companies and Population Health Decision Makers


February 1, 2017 

Sometimes the best laid plans are upended when you least expect it!

In mid-January, the FDA released draft guidance to facilitate the sharing of information between biopharmaceutical companies and population health decision makers. To say we were pleasantly surprised is an understatement. ... Read more.


Making PIE to Better Serve Patients


January 11, 2017 

Let’s imagine you’re a big city mayor and it’s time to order a new fleet of police cars for next year. Applying due diligence, you set out to compare various models from a variety of manufacturers. ... Read more.


Century Cures Act Advances AMCP's FDAMA Goals, Improves Value-Based Communications Between Manufacturers and Managed Care Pharmacy


December 22, 2016 

Who says Congress can’t get anything done…and with bipartisan support to boot? With impressive speed and purpose, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act in the waning days of the 114th Congress, followed by President Obama’s prompt signature. ... Read more.


Pharmacy Profession Comes Together to Help Document and Improve Patient Outcomes Through Medication Therapy Management


November 7, 2016 

People can accomplish remarkable things when they work toward a common goal. That’s what happened recently when a diverse group of pharmacy stakeholders gathered to develop standardized terms for medication therapy management (MTM) services. ... Read more.


AMCP really knows how to get things done!


October 13, 2016 

Not long ago a respected individual in the health care arena told one of my senior staff: “Compared to other associations I work with, AMCP really knows how to get things done.” You cannot imagine how proud I felt ... Read more.


AMCP Volunteers Are a Happy Lot


September 20, 2016 

There are many ways to measure the health and vitality of a professional association. The most crucial indicators, I’ve found, center on the engagement of an organization’s volunteers. This can be measured in the number of volunteer opportunities provided, the number of members who sign up, and the level of satisfaction they get from volunteering. ... Read more.


The Post Cites Pharmacists’ Expanding Role on Medical Teams


August 26, 2016 

Last week I saw a headline that jumped off the page: “America’s other drug problem: Giving the elderly too many prescriptions” (Washington Post, Aug. 15). I couldn’t read it fast enough and encourage members to do likewise, as it highlights two of the most important developments in health care. ... Read more.


Seizing Opportunity: AMCP Nexus 2016 Offers Knowledge, Advancement and More


August 3, 2016 

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity,” said the great Hippocrates, father of western medicine.

Opportunity, in fact, is a crucial element in the work that managed care pharmacy professionals engage in every day to improve the health, wellbeing and “healing” of millions of patients. We seize opportunities to find the right medicines for the right patients at the right time. ... Read more.


BRC Now Lets You Look It Up


July 13, 2016 

It was only ten years ago when biosimilars were so new that the New York Times described them as “so-called.” As late as five years ago newspapers put quotation marks around the term, as in “biosimilars.” At the time some still called them “follow-on” biopharmaceutics. ... Read more.


Is FDAMA Section 114 Finally Ready for Prime Time?


June 24, 2016 

Information is the life blood of managed care pharmacy. Of the “competent and reliable scientific” variety, that is.

Our profession operates best when we have broad access to the latest evidence-based data on the multitude of products coming to market today. We can plan, we can assess. With this information, managed care pharmacy professionals can help health care providers and patients select the right drug for the right patient at the right time, while making appropriate use of our scarce health care dollars. ... Read more.


Getting it straight with the updated AMCP Format!


May 19, 2016 

Using the best evidence possible to make informed health care decisions is a hallmark of managed care pharmacy. But making sense of the data often is no easy task, especially when it comes to analyzing pharmaceuticals and the value they bring to patients and the health care system... Read more.


CEO Susan Cantrell Addresses AMCP Annual Meeting


May 10, 2016 

New&Views announces a new monthly column by CEO Susan A. Cantrell, RPh, CAE, on breaking news and critical issues. Her first column presents her recent address―her first to the membership―at AMCP’s recent Annual Meeting.

“It is truly an honor to be standing before you today as the Academy’s new CEO. While new to the AMCP staff, I’ve been an observer and at times a participant in the terrific work of this organization. ..." Read more.