Past Event: Face to Face: Drug Plan Management Toronto

December 14, 2017
The Fairmont Royal York, Toronto

The Face-to-Face Drug Plan Management Forum is the industry’s most popular drug benefits conference.

New to this year’s event: A fast-paced panel that will feature timed “speed rounds” to cover a variety of hot topics in drug plan management.

Sample hot topics:

- PCSK9 – did they break the bank as predicted?
- How will PMPRB reform impact private plans?
- Should private plans be part of pCPA?

Other feature sessions:

  • Panel The true cost of drugs
  • Panel: The great pharmacare debate: what would pharmacare mean for plan sponsors?
  • Case study: How Merit Contractors Association took their 50,000 employees covered under its drug plans through design changes


Plan Sponsor/Employer Price = $129 + HST

Industry Provider Price = $249 + HST

Benefits Canada will apply to the Institute for CE credits. 
You must stay for the FULL event to be eligible.


Employee benefit and drug plan sponsors, benefit consultants, group insurers and other healthcare stakeholders. See above for more details. If you would like to suggest someone to attend or want more clarification, please email Lauren Harris, editor, conferences.

For information on how to sponsor this event, please contact Francesca Allman, senior national account manager.


CE credits will be offered at this event.


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Face to Face Toronto

December 14, 2017
Fairmont Royal York Hotel

7:00 - 7:55 a.m.
Breakfast and registration

7:55 - 8:00 a.m.
Opening remarks

8:00 - 8:20 a.m.
Private Drug Plan Forecast update
This session will provide a first look at the new IMC-IQVIA forecast for 2018 to 2020, including insights into the drivers of growth.

Brad Millson, principal, health access and outcomes, IQVIA

(Session made possible by Innovative Medicines Canada)

[Presentation not available for download]

8:20 - 9:10 a.m.
The True Cost of Drug Plans Panel
As the cost of drugs continues to rise, plan sponsors are concerned about the sustainability of their drug plans. How can plans survive in the face of desperately needed, life-saving specialty drugs? Are drug plans a cost or an investment? What can plan sponsors do to ensure their plans are affordable and valuable? This session will answer these questions and provide plan sponsors with the information they need to manage costs effectively.    

Suzanne Lepage,
private health plan strategist

John Herbert,
director of strategy, product development and clinical services, Express Scripts Canada
Kim MacFarlane,
assistant vice-president, group benefit product, Manulife
Mark Rolnick, vice-president, payor partnerships and plan sponsor innovation, Shoppers Drug Mart
Kevin West, vice-president, Innomar Strategies and HealthForward

[Presentation not available for download]

9:10 - 9:40 a.m.
Networking break

9:40 - 10:30 a.m.
Hot Topics Panel
This fast-paced panel that will feature timed speed rounds to cover a variety of hot topics in drug plan management. 

Sample topics to be discussed (subject to change):

  • PCKS9 – did they break the bank as predicted?
  • Is the HepC spike over?
  • How will medical marijuana impact private drug plans?
  • How will PMPRB reform impact private plans?
  • How will ODB changes impact private drug plans?
  • Should private plans be part of pCPA?
  • Biosimilars
  • Drug pooling

Suzanne Lepage,
private health plan strategist

Cory Cowan,
director, professional services, TELUS Health
Joe Farago,
executive director, health-care innovation, Innovative Medicines Canada (Participation made possible by Amgen)
Barbara Martinez, national practice leader of drug benefits solutions, The Great-West Life Assurance Co.
Suzanne Nagy, drug consulting leader – Canada, Mercer Canada
Durhane Wong-Rieger, president and chief executive officer, Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders

(Panel discussion supported by Sanofi)

[Presentation not available for download]

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
The great pharmacare debate: what would pharmacare mean for plan sponsors?
There are varying definitions of National Pharmacare, as well as differing views on the subject. This panel will feature diverse perspectives on what National Pharmacare means for them, as well as employers more broadly. Gain new insights on how this program would affect plan sponsors, their members and benefits plans in general.

Kevin Leshuk,
vice-president and general manager, Celgene Inc.

Julia Brown,
vice-president of government affairs and market access, Janssen Inc.
Marc-André Gagnon, associate professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University
Jean-Michel Lavoie, assistant vice-president, group benefits, Sun Life Financial 
Suzanne McGurn, assistant deputy minister and executive officer, Ontario Public Drug Programs, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Durhane Wong-Rieger, president and chief executive officer, Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders 

(Session made possible by Celgene Inc. and Janssen Inc.)

[Download the Presentation]

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Positioning Drug Plans for the Future
The Merit Contractors Association Benefit Plan, like many other administrative services only plan sponsors, faced significant challenges during the recent economic downturn. This, combined with dire warnings about the impact of prescription drugs on benefit plans, caused the plan to look outside the box to increase stability and future sustainability. It outsourced a comprehensive analysis of drug claims, and the results were nothing less than shocking. In this session, learn about the changes the plan made to eliminate a significant amount of inefficient spending without reducing coverage for the plan’s 60,000 participating employees.

Sue Gent,
benefit services manager, Mercon Benefit Services
Mike Sullivan, chief executive officer and co-founder, Cubic Health Inc.

[Download the Presentation]

12:00 p.m.
Closing remarks

HBS Speakers


Julia Brown

Julia Brown has been with Janssen Inc. for 14 years and is the vice-president of government affairs and market access. Previous roles at Janssen include national director of government and community relations, director of health economics and reimbursement and director of government relations, Ontario/Atlantic. Brown serves as the president of the Canadian Association for Healthcare Reimbursement (CAHR) and has sat on the CAHR board of directors for 12 years. She served as a chief of staff in the Ontario provincial government from 1997-2003 in the portfolios of municipal affairs and housing, management board and natural resources and as an executive assistant to the member from Bruce-Grey from 1995-1997.  Brown also has experience in the federal government, the not-for-profit sector and a manufacturing firm and holds a bachelor of arts in political science from Carleton University.

Julia Brown

Cory Cowan is director, professional services at TELUS Health. In this role, he is responsible for the strategic leadership and direction of the pharmacy services team. He is a trained pharmacist and holds both a bachelor’s degree (Memorial University) and doctorate degree (University of Toronto) in the field of pharmacy. Prior to joining TELUS Health, Cowan spent close to 10 years at Express Scripts Canada (ESC) beginning as a clinical pharmacist responsible for drug reviews, trends analyses, and core aspects of ESC’s annual drug trend report and subsequently managing the clinical services team. During his last three years at ESC, he led the pharmacy development of ESC’s home delivery business which provides maintenance medications to patients across the country. More recently, Cowan was a senior market access strategist at AstraZeneca Canada where he led the national reimbursement strategies for select cardiovascular and oncology products for both public and private payers.

Sue Gent

Marc-André Gagnon is associate professor with Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. He holds a doctorate in political science from York University and a master of advanced study in economics from Paris-1 Sorbonne and École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay/St-Cloud. He is a research fellow with the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Centre for Governance, Transparency and Accountability in the Pharmaceutical Sector, as well as with the Rational Therapeutics and Medications Policy Research Group. His current research focuses mainly on the political economy of the pharmaceutical sector. He analyzes institutional corruption in the pharmaceutical sector, regulatory capture of public institutions, innovation policies and intellectual property in the knowledge-based economy, as well as comparative regimes of health insurance and pharmacare.

Sue Gent

Sue Gent is the benefit services manager at Mercon Benefit Services, which is the administrator of the 60,000-life Merit Contractors Association benefit plan.  She has been with Mercon since 2008.  In her current role, her primary responsibilities include benefit plan management, administrative services only premium calculation, annual plan renewals and staff management. With over 30 years of experience in the life and health insurance industry, Gent is a fellow of the Life Management Institute and also holds a health insurance associate designation with the Health Insurance Association of America.  She began her career as a disability and life insurance underwriter, eventually managing the underwriting department of Canada’s largest individual disability insurer. She has also held a marketing consultant position with a prominent national individual and group insurance distributor, and has consulted to brokers on specialized cases. Originally from beautiful Burlington, ON, Gent now lives in Edmonton, AB, with her husband and son. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, photography and seeking out palm trees in southern climates.

John Herbert

John Herbert is the director of strategy, product development and clinical services at Express Scripts Canada. Responsible for leading the formulary and programs area, including drug plan management activities, Herbert directs Express Scripts Canada’s strategic initiatives and product development activities. Herbert’s powers of observation have helped him 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, Herbert 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. Herbert graduated from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario with a master of business administration in 1999.

Kevin Leshuk

Jean-Michel Lavoie is the leader of the Sun Life Financial group benefits product development team. In this role, Lavoie is responsible for the creation and execution of the group benefits product strategy to differentiate Sun Life as the leading benefits provider in Canada. His focus on innovation, which includes finding new approaches to product development, has brought better and faster solutions to our clients. In addition, he provides strategic leadership and insights when representing group benefits on industry task forces and government relations activities that have positively influenced our business. Lavoie has made significant contributions to the product strategy including innovations in high cost drug strategy, the launch of new solutions such as virtual/cognitive behaviour therapy and the introduction of pharmacogenetics. As a licensed pharmacist with a master of business administration, Lavoie has seamlessly transitioned from the pharmaceutical industry to the insurance world. Lavoie is also involved in his community with a focus on education, health and culture. Since 2015, he has supported his two alma maters with students by mentoring and coaching young graduates. Additionally, he is involved with the McCord Museum, and sits on the board of directors for the Professional Liability Insurance Fund of Pharmacists and Drug Free Kids Canada. Lavoie is an industry leader who demonstrates his passion and ability to find innovative solutions to serve clients and find the best solutions to meet their needs.


Kevin Leshuk

Kevin Leshuk is vice-president and general manager of Celgene Inc. Leshuk, a graduate of McMaster University, has over 20 years of biopharmaceutical experience having held significant and progressive roles within Pharmacia, Pfizer, Roche Canada and presently Celgene Inc. He has extensive knowledge of primary care and specialty markets within the industry; having worked and led teams across multiple and diverse disease areas. Since joining Celgene Inc. in 2006 as vice-president and general manager, the company has successfully brought forth transformational medicines for the treatment of rare and deadly cancers and debilitating immune inflammatory diseases. Leshuk is treasurer and executive board member of BioteCanada and a passionate champion of access to medicines for all Canadians.


Kim MacFarlane

Kim MacFarlane is the assistant vice-president of group benefit product at Manulife. She has more than 30 years of group benefits industry experience, working in a number of different areas of the business.  Today, MacFarlane leads the team that is responsible for product strategy, development and management. A graduate of McGill University in anatomical sciences, MacFarlane has always had keen interest in personal health and wellness and when she is not working she enjoys running, working out and cooking.


Kim MacFarlane

Joe Farago joined the Innovative Medicines Canada association as the executive director of health-care innovation in January 2016. In this role, he is responsible for the private payer market and the national innovation strategy. Farago is leading the pharmaceutical sector’s efforts in taking a more proactive approach to addressing today’s issues in order to ensure that tomorrow’s workforces in Canada have strong private market coverage best suited to meeting their needs. Farago has been mobilizing resources to focus on bringing discussions and solutions to the stakeholder table, where the overall objective is to ensure the sustainability of the private market insurance in Canada. Over the last 27 years, Farago 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. Farago has had the opportunity to be part of establishing two organizations in the Canadian market from the ground up, and he has a strong understanding of market access success and organizational development. He started his pharmaceutical career with Servier Canada Inc. in 1989, until he entered the plasma protein specialty market with CSL Ltd. in 2007, where he was instrumental in establishing and building the Canadian organization to a market leader. Farago graduated from Carleton University in 1989 with a bachelor of science degree. He currently lives in Ottawa, where he and his wife raise their three children. He has been very actively involved in the hockey community and was president of his association for seven years and continues to be an avid Ottawa Senators fan.

Barbara Martinez

Barbara Martinez is the national practice leader of drug benefits solutions in Great-West Life’s Toronto group sales office. In this role, she supports sales offices across Canada on prescription drug management initiatives. She plays a key role in supporting advisors and their clients, including designing and managing drug benefit plans with Great-West Life Drug Solutions programs. Martinez joined Great-West Life in 2012 after 10 years at Mercer, where she led the Canadian drug benefits consulting team. She’s a regular speaker at industry forums and a frequent commentator on employer drug programs. Her past experience also includes 13 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where she worked in sales and marketing as well as government and professional affairs.

Barbara Martinez

Suzanne McGurn is the assistant deputy minister and executive officer for the Ontario Public Drug Programs. In this role, she oversees one of the largest drug programs in North America, providing access to prescription medications for nearly four million Ontarians. Her position immerses her in the conversation about pharmaceuticals from all perspectives – patients, clinicians, manufacturers (generics/brands/biosimilars), pharmacists and pharmacy sector, research, innovation, health system and the list goes on. McGurn also plays a significant leadership role within the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA). In addition to working with the pCPA, the Ontario Public Drug Programs is an important part of Ontario’s broader efforts to address other key public policy challenges through initiatives such as the pharmacy naloxone program, reduction in access to high strength opioids, the patch for patch program, access to medications for MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying), expansion of access to Hepatitis C drugs and increased access to medications for low income seniors. All the previously mentioned initiatives having launched during the past year. McGurn brings over 30 years of experience in the health care environment to bear in the work she does – half of that time spent in various clinical and management positions as a nurse and half of the time spent in public service. Her education reflects a similar split as a graduate of Queen’s University with both a bachelor of nursing sciences and a master of public administration. In addition to her enthusiastic approach to her current role, she is also passionate about her family and enjoys her weekend trek home to Tamworth, a small farming community north of Napanee and time spent with her family including two grandchildren.

Brad Millson

Brad Millson is principal of the health access and outcomes consulting group at IQVIA. He leads projects to deliver market access strategy and real-world evidence based solutions for the pharmaceutical industry and its stakeholders. He joined the company in 2013, bringing his global expertise in pharmaceutical brand management, strong medical science training and strategic problem solving to the team. Millson has over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry globally, across government and private sectors Prior to joining IMS Brogan, he led the investment attraction function for life sciences at the department of foreign affairs and international trade, assisting global life science companies entering the Canadian market. He spent several years in the US, at a leading biotech strategy consulting firm developing solutions in new product launch, marketing, sales, and business development for the global headquarters of top pharmaceutical and biotech companies, spanning key therapeutic areas such as oncology and immunology.He has a master of business and science from Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, CA, and holds a bachelor of science in physiology from McGill University. 


Suzanne Nagy

Suzanne Nagy is Mercer’s drug consulting leader for Canada. She is based in Mercer’s Toronto office. Having recently joined Mercer, Nagy brings to Mercer extensive experience in the field of specialty pharmaceuticals, specialty drug support programs, chronic disease management, care management, specialty pharmacy and private/public payer markets. Nagy started her career as a registered nurse working at a large regional trauma centre in the emergency department. She spent the next 10 years working overseas in the UK, Australia and the United States. While in the US, she specialized in the management of specialty medications and held sales and leadership positions at a specialty drug pharmacy and medical equipment manufacturer. In 2001, Nagy returned to Ontario to accept a position at Bayshore Healthcare where she established the organization’s specialty drug patient support programs and pharmacy business – one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

Mark Rolnick

Mark Rolnick is the vice-president of payor partnerships and plan sponsor innovation at Shoppers Drug Mart. In this role, he is responsible for leading the strategy and development of innovative sustainable solutions to help employers manage their drug plans and improve the health and wellness of their employees. Rolnick and his team work in partnership with insurance carriers, benefits consultants and advisors to implement and execute these initiatives. Prior joining Shoppers Drug Mart, Rolnick spent over five years at Sun Life Financial in leadership roles within the group benefits product development area with a portfolio that included pharmaceuticals, disability, and health and wellness. Rolnick also spent over 11 years at AstraZeneca, holding a number of roles with increasing responsibility including market access, sales, marketing, strategic planning, and business development. Rolnick practiced pharmacy for many years, and has a master of science in health economics and a master of business administration.

Mike Sullivan

Mike Sullivan is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Cubic Health. He began his career as a pharmacist in Saskatoon, and has previous experience working in the pharmaceutical and benefits consulting industries. He continues to maintain an active license to practice with the Ontario College of Pharmacists. Sullivan is a member of Benefits Canada’s Online Expert Panel, and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto. Previously, he serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo for four years. Sullivan graduated from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan, and completed his master of business administration degree from the Schulich School of Business at York University where he specialized in finance.

Kevin West

Kevin West is the vice-president of HealthForward. He joined Innomar Strategies in 2008. With over 25 years of experience in the Canadian healthcare and insurance industries, West started HealthForward in 2012, and leads a team of 70 associates who are focused on optimizing health outcomes and access to therapy for patients while helping payers and plan sponsors achieve long-term sustainability in their drug plans.  Before starting HealthForward, West led various divisions at Innomar, including consulting, pharmacy, distribution, government relations, strategic partnerships, new business development and marketing.  Prior to joining Innomar, West spearheaded many innovative and ground-breaking initiatives that have shaped the delivery of healthcare in Canada. He implemented Canada’s first electronic prescription claims adjudication system and launched a fully-integrated adjudication software. He also led the first US owned long-term care pharmacy in Canada. West has a bachelor of arts degree from York University and sits on the board of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Distribution Management. 

Durhane Wong-Rieger

Durhane Wong-Rieger is president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (the umbrella organization of patients and patient groups) and chair of the Consumer Advocare Network, a national network for patient engagement in healthcare policy and advocacy.  She is also president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Optimizing Health Outcomes (providing training and direct service on health coaching and patient self-management). Internationally, Dr. Wong-Rieger is past-chair of the International Alliance of Patient Organizations, board member of Rare Disease International, member of Health Technology Assessment International Patient/Citizen Involvement Interest Group and member of the editorial board of The Patient-Patient Centred Outcomes Research. She is a certified health coach and licensed T-Trainer with the Stanford-based Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.Wong-Rieger has served on numerous health policy advisory committees and panels and is a member of the Patient Liaison Forum for the Canadian Drugs and Technologies in Health. Wong-Rieger has a doctorate in psychology from McGill University and was professor at the University of Windsor, Canada from 1984-1999. She is married and has two children.  She is a trainer and frequent lecturer and author of three books and many articles.

For information on the speakers, please contact Lauren Harris, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada

The Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Just steps away from our famous doors in the heart of Canada's largest metropolis is an exciting mix of activities and attractions that will leave you exhilarated. From the theater, entertainment and financial districts, to shopping, sightseeing, and world-class sports facilities, The Fairmont Royal York hotel truly is ''at the center of it all'' in Toronto.

Fairmont Fairmont

100 Front Street West, Toronto, ON M5J 1E3

Telephone: 416 368 2511
Fax: 416 368 9040

Driving Directions:

From Lester B. Pearson International Airport
Follow signs to 427 South
From 427 South, take the Gardiner Expressway Eastbound
Follow along the Gardiner Expressway Eastbound
Take the Yonge/York/Bay Street exit
Follow along Bay Street going Northbound
Turn left onto Front Street for valet parking; entrance is on right

From Highway 401 (Eastbound or Westbound)
Exit on the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) Southbound
Exit on the Gardiner Expressway Westbound
Exit on Yonge Street North
Left on Front Street (Westbound)
Pass one set of lights (Bay Street)
Hotel is on right-hand side, across from Union Station

Valet Parking:
Valet Parking is available at the east doors of the hotel, off Front Street. In-and-out privileges are included.

Overnight rate for Registered Guests: $42.00
30 minutes or less: $11.00
One hour or less: $16.00
One hour, 30 minutes or less: $21.00
Two hours or less: $26.00
Daytime maximum (7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) or over two hours: $34.00
Evening function rate (5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.): $31.00

For more information, please contact Joanne Boccia event manager
For sponsorship information contact Francesca Allman senior national account manager