Passing the torch: Ralph Neas' tenure at the Generic Pharmaceutical Association
The Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) has become accustomed to facing challenges—rapidly increasing prices, ongoing quality-control issues in India, generic-drug shortages, and unfair Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) abuse being used by brand-manufacturers to subvert competition in the marketplace and stop generic manufacturers from copycatting drugs that are about to or already have gone off patent.
Now for the latest challenge: Ralph Neas, CEO and President of GPhA since September 2011, has announced that he will step down this fall.
A hard act to follow
Ten months seems like enough time to cull through candidates and find a suitable replacement, but using history as a gauge, it may not be long enough. It took 14 months to find a replacement for Neas’s predecessor, Kathleen Jaeger, who served as GPhA’s President and CEO for almost eight years.
Neas is best known for his role in taking on various legislative battles to keep Hatch/Waxman intact and to help pave the way for full-scale introduction of biosimilars, as well as many other endeavors. But he also accomplished a great deal on an organizational level. Between 2011 and 2014, GPhA’s annual revenues increased by 34% from $9.5 million to $12.7 million. At the same time, net assets more than doubled from $3.2 million to $6.5 million, while GPhA’s staff increased from 15 to 22 individuals.
A leader through and through
During transition periods, the focus tends to be on how to ensure a smooth transition on an organizational level, and rightfully so. But what about looking at the types of leaders the GPhA chooses. Ralph Neas has a long history of oversight and consensus-building dating back more than 30 years. From 1981 to 1995, Neas was the Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR).
According to information from the GPhA, during his tenure at LCCR, Neas worked with “huge bipartisan majorities” to strengthen “every major civil rights law.” He then went on to serve as President and CEO of People for the American Way (PFAW).
Just before taking on his current position at GPhA, Neas was President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care. His broad focus was on improving the across-the-board health status of all Americans, while also lobbying for controlling costs in the U.S. healthcare system.
Staying on message
On September 7, 2011, when Neas was publicly welcomed into his current role, he said, “Generic medications have long established themselves as a vital component in lowering our country’s healthcare costs by providing patients with quality care at a lower cost.”
Clearly, Neas’s position on the role of generics in the healthcare system has not wavered. What’s more, based on the trajectory of Neas’s career over the last three-plus decades, his commitment to organizational leadership and pragmatic collaboration has also been steadfast.
Look out for an exclusive upcoming BioPharma Dive exit interview with Ralph Neas. We'll discuss some of the hottest topics in the industry, including the future of biosimilars, the 21st Century Cure Initiative, challenges in India, and what comes next for the generic pharmaceutical industry.
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