Top Influencers In Medicine | Body and Soul

Top Influencers In Medicine | Body and Soul

Published February 4, 2009

( -- Black History Month is a time to celebrate our past, as well as our present and future. Reflecting on our past accomplishments is very important. That’s the reason we are where we are today.  However, as we glance in the rear view mirror, we start to realize that, to keep driving forward, we need to be looking ahead as well. 
The Pharmaceutical Industry is one of the largest, and important segments of healthcare in American and global life. Americans spend over $200 billion a year on prescription drugs, and that figure is growing at a rate of about 12 percent a year. This industry touches the lives of us all. With health disparities impacting the lives of African Americans, the prescription drug industry is an important one when considering issues of healthcare.
Who are the African Americans making history today in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The presence of African Americans in key roles, has not only resulted in inspiring young people to aspire to reach for this level of accomplishment, but also provides valuable sensitivity to the execution and implementation of policies, programs, and drug initiatives that positively serve the needs and interest of African Americans, as well as all patients. recognizes the African Americans in the Pharmaceutical Industry who hold positions of influence, and who are making a difference. Join us, during Black History Month 2009, as we begin our continuous look at today’s African American heroes in the pharmaceutical industry.

We salute these African Americans who are making a difference today with their success inside the Pharmaceutical Industry:
Kermit R. Crawford , Senior Vice President at Walgreen Co.
Walgreens Co. is the nation's largest drugstore chain. Crawford is the Senior Vice President of Walgreens Health Initiatives (WHI). As the managed care division of Walgreen Co., Walgreens Health Initiatives draws from a rich tradition of pharmacy-focused healthcare. WHI client roster includes more than 400 health plans, employer groups, third party administrators, union groups, government entities, and other types of organizations representing 2.3 million lives.

Crawford joined Walgreens as a pharmacy intern in 1983. Later that year, he graduated from pharmacy school at Texas Southern University, Houston. He was a store manager and district manager for Walgreens before being named Senior Vice President.
Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, M.D., Vice President, Outcomes Research and Medical Services, Pfizer, Inc.
Dr. Egbuonu-Davis is board certified in pediatric medicine and her background includes education and experience in science, business and public health.

At Pfizer, Dr. Egbuonu-Davis, supports the work of tens of thousands of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals around the world, in an effort to ensure the same level of professionalism throughout the company.  In collaboration with Spelman faculty in the Women's Resource and Research Center and the Spelman College Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement, Dr. Egbuonu-Davis has been instrumental in developing and conducting a seminar course in health disparities, and to contribute to a leadership program to support Black women in science and health, and mentor students.
"We are tremendously grateful to Pfizer for their generous support and know that Dr. Egbuonu-Davis will offer dynamic interdisciplinary linkages for our students in both the natural and social sciences," said Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman College president. "The interest in women's health and health disparities continues to grow among our students, and this exciting partnership with Pfizer will allow us to expand our offerings and build on our strengths."
"I am very excited to participate in this effort and look forward to the progress that Pfizer and Spelman can make as partners," said Dr. Egbuonu-Davis. "Health disparities and women's health are critical issues for the African-American community. As a physician executive and public health advocate, I am honored to contribute to this initiative."

Pfizer Inc is the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical company, providing a broad range of human and animal pharmaceuticals, as well as consumer products. Pfizer Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures and markets leading prescription medicines, for humans and animals, and many of the world's best-known consumer brands.
Bridgette Heller, Global President, Baby, Kids & Wound Care Franchise Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Co.
As Global President of this division of the world’s most comprehensive and broadly based manufacturer of health care products, Heller’s team is charged with turning out skin care products. Under her management, J&J launched a line of natural baby care products – its biggest launch in over 10 years – which educated parents on the changing needs of infant skin. Her leadership has produced the recent groundbreaking study, Johnson’s Skin Maturation Study, on infant skin, which resulted in the development of Johnson’s Soothing Naturals product, created to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier.
Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Ms. Heller was Executive Vice President and General Manager-Coffee, at Kraft Foods which she joined in 1985 as an Assistant Product Manager. She attributes her leadership style partly to her attitude about seeing diversity as an asset to company success.  “Throughout my career I’ve worked hard at being an advocate for diversity on all levels (ethnicity, gender, age, background, etc.) I truly believe that when people are empowered to bring their unique thoughts and skills to the table, businesses thrive and better, faster, growth results.”
She has a B.A. degree in Computer Studies and Economics and an M.B.A. degree in Marketing from Northwestern University.
William (Larry) Lucas, Vice President, Government Affairs/Diversity Programs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Lucas lobbies the U.S. Congress and state legislators on issues that are important to the research-based pharmaceutical industry.  Lucas writes a syndicated monthly column about new developments in the pharmaceutical industry.  His previous PhRMA position was Associate Vice President, in the Alliance Development Division, which included coalition building and grass roots development.  Lucas is involved in community activities and voluntary lectures at educational institutions focusing on public affairs and government relations issues. 
He is a member of the National NAACP Health Committee, Vice Chairman of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ Corporate Roundtable, The Corporate Advisory Council to the National Hispanic Medical Foundation and The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Corporate Council.  Lucas serves on the Boards of Directors for Providence Health Foundation Providence Hospital, Yale University’s School of Nursing External Advisory Board, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., and is a founding member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators’ Business Board of Advisors.

Lucas received his B.S. degree in Education form Jackson State University in Mississippi.  
Michael A. Rashid, Executive Vice President and COO of AmeriHealth Mercy
Rashid is responsible for directing corporate operational functions for the AmeriHealth Mercy family of health plans, including its sister organization, Keystone Mercy Health Plan. These functions include executive management of affiliated plans, PerformRx pharmacy care management, Information Systems and Operations. Prior to joining AmeriHealth Mercy, Mr. Rashid was President and Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Health Plan of New Jersey (now Horizon NJ Health), where he led the provision of comprehensive managed health care services to Medicaid clients in New Jersey.
In his current role at AmeriHealth Mercy, Rashid played a central role in the development of PerformRx. AmeriHealth Mercy's PerformRx is the next generation PBM (pharmacy benefit management) that meets financial objectives while improving the quality of health care for its more than 1 million customers in six states. Within the Medicaid sector, PerformRx maintains an average annual pharmacy cost trend of 3-5% versus the national trend in the range of 15%.
Mr. Rashid earned a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the University of Southern California.
Debra A. Sandler, Worldwide Group Vice President of Marketing, McNeil Nutritionals Worldwide
Debra Sandler has seen Johnson & Johnson’s startup initiative, the introduction of Splenda low-calorie sweetener, turn into a big success. When Ms. Sandler signed on to lead the launch of the product in early 2000 following FDA approval of the sucralose-based sugar substitute, the now worldwide group VP-marketing for J&J’s McNeil Nutritionals was used to the large-scale consumer marketing budgets of former employer PepsiCo. But, she says, the smaller budget necessitated that she and her team develop an extremely consistent message and theme that would be directed at a “bull’s-eye target.” It is that clarity that made the brand a “phenomena success,” she says.
Splenda is an ingredient in about 3,000 products globally, roughly half of those inthe U.S. Ms. Sandler says the market was ripe for a new sweetener with a great-taste message as “the obesity epidemic has people sitting up and re-evaluating their food choices.”

Ms. Sandler has been recognized by Advertising Age as part of the “Power 50 Marketers Award for Excellence in Marketing” (2004), by Ebony magazine as one of the “Top 15 African American Female Executives in Corporate America”, by The Network Journal as one of the “Top 25 Influential Black Women in Business” and by Black Enterprise as one of the “Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America.”  She has also been named one of the “Outstanding Women in Marketing & Communications.”  Ms. Sandler is the recipient of the 2005 Distinguished Alumna Award from AHBBS, the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students, a NYU Stern MBA student organization.  Ms. Sandler received a BBA in International Trade from Hofstra University and an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.
Glenn  C.  Taylor, Medco Health Solutions Group President, Government & Key Accounts
Glenn C. Taylor is responsible for Medco’s Key Accounts group — government, labor groups and UnitedHealth Group. Prior to this role, he served as Medco’s Senior Vice President, Account Management from April 2002 to September 2003, and as President of the UnitedHealth Group division from February 1999 to April 2002. Mr. Taylor founded this division of Medco in 1999. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Taylor was responsible for pharmaceutical sales and market expansion as a Regional Business Group Vice President of the U.S. Human Health division at Merck & Co., Inc. Before joining Merck, Mr. Taylor held various senior sales and account management assignments within Medco. . Mr. Taylor joined the Company in May 1993 as a result of our acquisition of FlexRx, Inc. a pharmacy benefit manager in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Taylor was President.
He received a master’s in business from Lake Forest Graduate School (high honors) and a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Olaf College.
Ronald A. Williams, CEO/Chairman, Aetna Inc.
As CEO/Chairman of Aetna, Williams took the $18 billion health care giant off life support. When he came on board with Aetna in 2002, the company was hemorrhaging red ink, posting a loss of $279.6 million. To revive the ailing institution, he performed radical surgery, cutting costs and laying off thousands of employees while targeting new revenue sources.
Now, the company is back on track. Williams has also pushed Aetna to become an industry leader by taking on issues such as racial and ethnic disparities in health care. He oversees over 27,000 employees and controls a leviathan that touches millions of lives. Aetna insures 13.6 million individuals for medical coverage, 11.6 million for dental coverage, 8.3 million for pharmacy coverage, and 13.3 million for group insurance coverage.

Williams, who earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Roosevelt University and a master's degree from MIT's Sloan School of Management, gravitated toward health care because of his interest in service-oriented businesses. Today, he makes sure that he takes care of the needs of his customers -- rich or poor -- while ensuring that Aetna has a healthy bottom line.
Gina P. Wilkerson, Vice President, Veterinary Medicine AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP
Dr. Gina Wilkerson oversees and supports all animal projects at the Wilmington Research & Development facility of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. She planned the company's first International Veterinary Conference and developed a Web-based training program to satisfy regulatory requirements for training veterinary techniques and staff.

She earned her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Tuskegee University in 1985 and her B.Sc. in animal and poultry sciences/biology from Tuskegee in 1980. She has worked as a veterinary medical practitioner in private practice and for the U.S. Department of Agriculture before entering private industry.


BDO ( ) is the World’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted to African Americans.

Written by Glen Ellis, BDO Editor At Large


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