Past Event: Face to Face: Drug Plan Management (Vancouver)

May 26, 2016
The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver

The Face-to-Face Drug Plan Management Forum, Vancouver, is a half-day event focusing on drug plan management issues. Combining presentations, case studies and an interactive panel, this forum provides stakeholders with an opportunity to share common challenges and joint solutions.

New to the 2016 conference, this year's Vancouver event will feature expert commentary on exclusive Benefits Canada research related to drug plans.

The theme of this year's conference is: Protecting your pocketbook and your employees' health

The current economy is volatile and resources are limited for employers across Canada. Maintaining a drug plan is expensive, especially with the prevalence of chronic disease and the rise of more personalized treatment options. There are questions on many plan sponsors minds like: How can I better manage my drug plan to ensure it is financially sustainable? How can I do so without compromising my employees’ health? How can this be sustainable over the short, medium and long-term?

The answers to these questions are not easy. To learn about these issues and solutions, don’t miss the 2016 Face to Face Drug Plan Management Forum in Vancouver.

If you can't make the Vancouver event, the Face-to-Face Drug Plan Management Forum also takes place Toronto in early December.


$99 + TAX (charged to a credit card upon registration)


The agenda for this event will be submitted to the Institute for CE Credits.


Pension and benefit plan sponsors, group insurers, benefits consultants, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare stakeholders.

For information on how to sponsor this event, please contact Francesca Allman, senior account manager.
For agenda or speaking information, please email Yaelle Gang, editor of conferences.


TwitterJoin the conversation! Tweet your questions in advance at @BenCanMag #F2Fvan or to @BenCanMag

Face-to-Face Drug Plan Management 2016 Agenda
7:25 - 8:25 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast

8:25 - 8:30 a.m.

Welcome from Benefits Canada

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Session 1

Can we afford to ignore productivity loss due to illness? Presenteeism and your drug plan

Traditionally, productivity loss has been measured according to illness-related absence from work (absenteeism) only. However, there is increasing evidence that presenteeism (reduced quantity or quality of labour input while at work) is an even greater source of productivity losses. In this session, Dr. Aslam Anis will discuss issues related to productivity loss measurement and valuation. He will then explore the impact of these issues on the workforce and highlight how employers can respond to tackle absenteeism and presenteeism with their drug plans. Don’t miss this session to learn about how drug plan coverage may relate to productivity.

Dr. Aslam Anis, professor, University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health

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Session 2
Panel: Canadian Drug Trends and Your Plan

This panel will review exclusive Benefits Canada research conducted after surveying over 200 plan sponsors regarding private drug trends. Discussion topics include what plan sponsors see as the cost drivers of their drug plans, how they get information on drug plan trends, new drugs coming to market, and programs or services to manage drug plan costs. In addition, the panel will explore who and what influences plan sponsor drug plan decision-making and what drug plan changes are planned or have been made and why. Each of the panellists will represent companies that are thought leaders in the industry. The panellists will take the research and put it into terms plan sponsors and professionals will find useful and insightful.

Shelley Kee, senior vice-president of group business, Pacific Blue Cross

Anson Tang, drug product manager, Desjardins Insurance
John Herbert, director of strategy, product development & clinical services, Express Scripts Canada
Steve Smyth,
director, private payers, Janssen Inc.
Bruno Mäder,
vice-president of the biologics and diversified products division, Merck Canada

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*This research is the property of Benefits Canada and cannot be used without permission from, and subsequently, credit to, the original creator of the research (with the exception of Corporate Sponsors who made this research possible).

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Networking Break

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Session 3
Panel: Looking Forward - Drug Plan Sustainability in Canada

This panel will review exclusive Benefits Canada research conducted after surveying over 200 plan sponsors regarding their concerns about the sustainability and cost of their drug plans. Discussion topics include plan sponsors' perceptions on plan member cost sharing, their impression of specialty biologic and biosimilar drugs and their impact on their drug plans, and perceptions about pharmacogenomics, genetic testing and government-funded pharmacare programs. Each of the panellists will represent companies that are thought leaders in the industry. The panellists will take the research and put it into terms plan sponsors and professionals will find useful and insightful.

Robert Taylor, principal, TRG Group Benefits

Kevin West, vice-president, Innomar Strategies
Joe Farago,
executive director, healthcare innovation, Innovative Medicines Canada
Joanne Jung,
director of pharmacy services, Pacific Blue Cross
Dr. Sunil Kalia,
assistant professor, University of British Columbia (participation made possible by Amgen)

DOWNLOAD Presentation

*This research is the property of Benefits Canada and cannot be used without permission from, and subsequently, credit to, the original creator of the research (with the exception of Corporate Sponsors who made this research possible).

11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. - Session 4

The New Three 'R's: Re-commit, Re-model, and Re-construct Your Benefit Offerings

This case study presentation will demonstrate how one large multiemployer plan, including a major unionized group, determined they needed to profoundly re-think the organizations' purpose, design and execution for delivering benefit coverage. Explore why, how and who participated in this pivotal initiative to re-design their benefits plans and observe how they have quantified their success to date while continuing to map out their new, brighter future in the benefits arena. In this case study session, attendees will learn the three new 'R's: 1) how to re-commit their intentions and shift the focus from benefits as a cost to benefits as an investment; 2) how to re-model their approach to restate why and how they do what they do; and 3) how re-construct their benefits to gain efficiencies while staying true to their commitment to employees' health.

Shandy Reed, division manager - health strategies & stakeholder engagement, Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan

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12:15 p.m. - Closing Remarks from Benefits Canada


Dr. Aslam Anis

Anis Aslam

Dr. Anis is a Professor in the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a respected health economist and sought-after speaker on the topic of economic evaluation and resource allocation for health care interventions. His primary areas of expertise include Canadian competition policy in the pharmaceutical industry and the cost-effectiveness of treatments for HIV/AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Anis is the Director of the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcomes Sciences (CHEOS), one of the largest and most productive multidisciplinary health outcomes research groups in Canada. He is also the National Director of the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN), a Senior Scientist at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Anis's research activities have been extensive. His earliest research into the pharmaceutical industry demonstrated that pricing regulations as they were being implemented by provincial drug plans were responsible for higher generic drug prices in Canada. As the founding director of the Pharmacoeconomic Initiative of BC, Dr. Anis developed a framework under which pharmaceutical firms seeking to list drugs on the provincial formulary were required to submit cost-effectiveness data to inform the government's decision. In the 1990s, Dr. Anis was among the first scholars worldwide to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of anti-retroviral therapy and his work helped shape economic policies governing access to this critical treatment for persons living with HIV/AIDS. As an expert in cost-effectiveness analysis, Dr. Anis has also made important contributions to arthritis research. In the area of rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Anis has been involved in several influential studies of biologic therapies, which have informed reimbursement policies surrounding these treatments in Canada and the UK.


Joe Farago

Joe Farago

In January 2016, Joe was hired as the Executive Director Healthcare Innovation for Innovative Medicines Canada which represents Canada's innovative pharmaceutical industry. Joe is responsible for the private payer market.

Innovative Medicines Canada is the national voice of Canada's innovative pharmaceutical industry. The membership consists of more than 50 companies that advocate for policies that enable the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative medicines and vaccines that improve the lives of all Canadians.

Shortly after joining the organization Joe identified the rapid changes and challenges taking place in the private payer space that impact future patient access. He has been responding by mobilizing resources to focus on bringing discussions and solutions to the stakeholder table that will ensure the sustainability of the private market insurance in Canada. Joe is leading the industries efforts in taking a more proactive approach to addressing today's issue to ensure tomorrow's workforces in Canada have strong private market coverage best suited to meeting their needs.

Over the last 27 years Joe has acquired a vast knowledge of the Canadian Pharmaceutical and Specialty Biopharmaceutical markets. He has a wide range of experience in access, government affairs, sales, marketing and operations. Joe has had the opportunity to be part of establishing two organizations in the Canadian market from the ground up and brings a strong understand of market access success and organizational development. Joe started his pharmaceutical career with Servier Canada in 1989 until he entered the Plasma Protein Specialty market with CSL Limited in 2007 where he was instrumental in establishing and building the Canadian organization to a market leader.

Joe Farago attended Carleton University, graduating in 1989 with a BSc.

Joe is based in Ottawa where he and his wife raise their three children. He has been very actively involved in the hockey community where he was president of his association for 7 years and continues to be an avid Ottawa Senators fan.

John Herbert

John Herbert

Responsible for leading the formulary and programs area, including drug plan management activities, John Herbert directs Express Scripts Canada's strategic initiatives and product development activities. John's powers of observation have helped him successfully lead Express Scripts Canada's analytics activities, including the direction of financial and data analysis projects across the organization.

Prior to joining Express Scripts Canada in 1999, John gained valuable insight into the group insurance industry during his tenure as a consultant at London Life Insurance Company and as an employee benefits analyst at Morneau Shepell. John graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario with his Master of Business Administration in 1999.

Joanne Jung

Joanne Jung

Joanne Jung is Director of Pharmacy Services with Pacific Blue Cross, British Columbia's leading benefits providers for over 70 years. She joined Pacific Blue Cross after over 20 years of working as a clinical pharmacist in various specialty areas of patient care with St. Paul's Hospital and Vancouver Coastal Health where she also held the role of Regional Staff Education Pharmacist. Joanne has a pharmacy degree from the University of British Columbia after which she has also completed her hospital residency at St Paul's Hospital. At Pacific Blue Cross, Joanne applies her skills to assess the appropriateness of medication therapy, cost containment and quality enhancement in drug plan design. She is also involved in formulary development, provider education and data analysis.

Sunil Kaila

Sunil Kaila

Dr. Kalia is a dermatologist and assistant professor at the Department of Dermatology and Skin Science. His special interest focuses on photodermatology and epidemiology. He is currently the co-director of the Psoriasis and Phototherapy Clinic at the Vancouver General Hospital. He has examined disease burden and treatment adherence in psoriasis patients. Dr. Kalia has analyzed different factors that lead to lower adherence rates. He is the co-director of the Clinical Trials unit at the Skin Care Centre. Over the last three years he has acted as the president of the Dermatology Society of British Columbia. As well, he is the block chair of the Integument System at the University of British Columbia.

Shelley Kee

Shelley Key

As Senior Vice President of Group Business, Shelley is responsible for the development and execution of sales growth and retention strategies for Pacific Blue Cross. She leads our Group Client Development team in exceeding client expectations through exceptional service and continuous product improvement. Shelley is a seasoned group benefits professional and has been part of the Blue Cross family for more than 25 years. Prior to joining Pacific Blue Cross, she was Vice President of Group Business (Atlantic Canada) for our sister organization, Medavie Blue Cross, working in Moncton, NB.

She brings additional thought leadership to Pacific Blue Cross. Shelley is Past-President of the Canadian Council on Integrated Health Care and is a conference speaker on a wide variety of topics related to the group benefits industry. Before relocating to Vancouver in 2015, Shelley was a member of the Board of Directors for the Better Business Bureau (Atlantic Provinces) and served on the Advisory Council of the Order of New Brunswick Award for the past several years. Shelley is a past recipient of the Rogers Media Who's Who in Healthcare Award and received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her significant contributions to the local community. She has also volunteered internationally with Habitat for Humanity Global Village.

Bruno Mäder

Bruno Mader

Bruno Mäder has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years. He joined Schering Plough in 1993 which merged with Merck in 2011. He currently has a Canadian and global mandate with this company. Bruno is Vice president of the Biologics and diversified products division for Merck Canada and also plays an active role in shaping the global market access strategy as a member of the global Biosimilar team. Prior to this role, he was General Manager of the Merck OTC products business in Canada and he is the former chairman of the Consumer Health products Canada (CHP) which is the OTC industry association. Bruno created the Immunology division for Schering Plough Canada and continued to lead this division with Merck after the merger. He launched Remicade in Canada which remains a top selling biologics brand in Canada and he was the head of the division during the launch of Simponi in the same market. During this period, he led the opening of the first private infusion clinics for Remicade as well as the launch of the Bioadvance patient and physician support program.

Shandy Reed

Shandy Reed

As the Division Manager of Health Strategies & Stakeholder Engagement with ASEBP, Shandy supports ASEBP’s ongoing efforts to identify, engage and support relationships with ASEBP’s stakeholders including school jurisdiction and employer group leadership, government and its agencies and other identified plan partners. Supporting strategic health initiatives and overseeing ASEBP’s organizational communications are also part of her role. Prior to joining ASEBP, Shandy coordinated a provincial advocacy coalition focused healthy public policies and co-led several health strategies in the areas of addictions, tobacco reduction, early child development and health promotion within both the provincial and federal government. Shandy has a degree in Social Work from the University of Calgary, a Master of Science degree in Health Promotion at the University of Alberta and an Advanced Executive Certificate in General Management from Queens University School Of Business.

Steve Smyth

Anson Tang

As the National Director for the Private Payer Team at Canada's largest pharmaceutical company, Janssen Inc., Steve is responsible for leading the organizational strategy with private insurers, benefits consultants and plan sponsors.

In his 25 years of industry experience, Steve has held senior leadership positions across Janssen's portfolio. This includes the lifecycle management of CONCERTA, creating and leading a Health Care Solutions value generation team, and driving Janssen's Subsequent Entry Biologic strategy. Over the past three years, Steve and his team have engaged the private insurance industry in pioneering innovative industry-leading partnerships. In addition, Steve has garnered international experience with Janssen through a secondement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Steve's experience extends to contributions in numerous industry associations including the prior Rx & D and BIOTECanada. He holds bachelor and masters degrees in science from the University of Guelph, and an MBA from the Schulich School of business.

Anson Tang

Anson Tang

Anson Tang is a Drug Product Manager at Desjardins Insurance, based in Toronto. He is responsible for ensuring the sustainability of drug insurance coverage, implementing effective drug cost management measures, and keeping plan members and plan sponsors well-informed.

With over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical sector, Anson has held positions as Clinical Lecturer at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, Pharmacy Services Manager at TELUS Health, and has also worked in medical information and drug safety in the pharmaceutical industry.

Anson has been practising as a community pharmacist since 1995, and is still actively licensed. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Toronto, a Master of Science from McMaster University, and an MBA from Schulich School of Business.

Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor

Rob began career in 1989 selling Life Insurance and small benefit plans in a blue collar area of Cape Breton, NS. That area of Cape Breton has seen change with Coke Ovens, a Steel Plant and Fishing wharves yielding to parklands and shuttered businesses.

Rob's career path included pit stops in Edmonton, Victoria, back to Edmonton and Winnipeg earning the nickname "coast to coast TAYLOR" and at one time was the youngest Regional Manager and Director for a major insurer in Canada.

In 2001, Rob relocated West to Vancouver to join the firm TRG Benefits & Pensions.

Rob loves education. Adding the CEBS designation to his list of credentials in 2014 and he has been a member of the Legacy teaching program for the past 15 years. He is an active industry blogger, author and speaker.

Rob is married to Laura with their three children Jack, Nadia and Ava.

In his spare time he is quite proud of his "golf course redesign" abilities (if you have seen Rob golf you may understand what he means by redesign). Rob plays guitar and spends much of each summer at their home on the East Coast in Cape Breton.

Kevin West

Jen Wetherow

Kevin West is the Vice President, Innomar Strategies and is based at the head office in Oakville, Ontario.

Kevin is responsible for corporate business development, Patient Assistance Programs and Payer products and services. Kevin's teams work to develop, strengthen and maintain relationships between key stakeholders, establishing Innomar Strategies as an industry leader in the Canadian marketplace. In addition, Kevin is responsible for Innomar's overarching Biosimilar Program Strategy.

Kevin joined Innomar Strategies in 2008 as a senior industry executive with over twenty-five years of health care leadership experience. Kevin's vast experience includes many "game-changing" developments with key industry stakeholders, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, drug wholesalers and private and public payer groups resulting in improvements to overall health care delivery in Canada.


Francesca Allman

Yaelle Gang
Joanne Boccia


The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver

Enjoy a vibrant urban energy & relaxing resort experience at our downtown Vancouver hotel

Enjoy views of the coastline, distant mountains, and Stanley Park, plus easy access to all of the best things to do in Vancouver. Reinvigorate with an ocean-side jog or bicycle ride in Stanley Park. Then, treat yourself to a delicious meal in one of our Vancouver restaurants and unwind in your Westin Heavenly Bed®.

1601 Bayshore Drive
Vancouver, BC
V6G 2V4

Phone: (604) 682-3377

For questions regarding logistics or venue, please contact Andrea Buzzetti, event manager.