The Aequitas Group
Roger has had a long career in media and communications in the healthcare sector. During the 1980s, he owned and operated cable television and radio stations in the eastern United States. In the early 1990s, he joined Jobson Publishing as a principal. During his time at Jobson, Roger served as CFO and was responsible for all merger and divestiture activity, as well as arranging all debt and equity financing. Roger was responsible for almost 20 transactions valued at nearly $500 million. Jobson Publishing grew to become one of the largest privately held medical-information companies in the United States. In 2004, Roger and Green Mountain Partners acquired AccessMed, a reimbursement-hotline-service provider. In 2005, Roger and Green Mountain Partners acquired The Aequitas Group. AccessMed was sold to US Oncology in July 2006.
Roger holds a degree in economics from Brown University.
Debby Berlyne, Ph.D.
Debby is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience. She currently writes and edits reports, journal manuscripts, peer-review summary statements, Web content, and patient-education materials, primarily in the medical field. She has worked on documents in such diverse medical fields as cancer (including breast, pancreatic, prostate, gynecologic, and brain), diabetes, cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, health services research, hematologic disease, mental illness, organ transplant, and substance abuse.
Debby holds a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University.
Roshawn A. Blunt, M.B.A., C.P.C.
Roshawn is a healthcare-policy executive with experience from the patient, provider, and manufacturer perspectives. As Vice President of Strategy, Planning and Communication at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital, the largest private hospital system west of the Mississippi River, Roshawn held responsibility for business development, marketing, and physician partnerships. She has held the position of Global Director, Health Economics and Reimbursement, in the cardiology franchise of Johnson and Johnson, where her team was responsible for health-economics analysis and reimbursement strategy for 20 countries. In addition, Roshawn spent many years at Amgen in strategic-marketing roles of increasing responsibility. Her final role was as a director in Amgen’s Washington, DC global government affairs office. Roshawn was responsible for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services strategy across Amgens oncology portfolio. She also worked in strategic planning, analysis, and reimbursement; marketing promotions for the hospital division; pricing and reimbursement for the nephrology business unit; and the competitive intelligence department. Roshawn was a management consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, has spoken at numerous conferences, and is a lecturer on healthcare policy.
Roshawn was graduated from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She has a degree in international and public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Liz joined The Aequitas Group after spending 15 years in the healthcare industry at a variety of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Most recently, Liz was Director of Commercial Information and Sales Operations at Genentech. In this role, she led a team that provided sales, marketing, and reimbursement reporting and analysis across all products for sales, marketing, and managed care. She and her team supported multiple product launches, brand-performance reporting across products, and the development of new capabilities to support expanded commercial reporting and analytics. In addition, during her tenure at Genentech, Liz did a field sales-force rotation to augment her sales and marketing skill set.
Prior to joining Genentech, Liz worked at Amgen in a variety of roles in marketing, information management, and sales operations and analysis. Her sales operations responsibilities included leading a team that supported sales reporting, sales analysis, incentive compensation, and territory design and alignment, as well as defining and implementing launch tactics to support the launch of Aranesp® (darbepoetin alpha). In marketing, Liz drove the development of the Aranesp 3-year brand plan and life-cycle plan, developed and implemented a new patient-based forecast model, identified key brand-performance indicators and metrics to measure brand performance, and led the implementation of a medical-information call center. Prior to her work at Amgen, Liz spent more than 7 years at Muro Pharmaceutical in several positions. Her last position at Muro Pharmaceutical was head of sales and marketing operations and analysis.
Liz received her B.S. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also received a certificate in executive development from the Kellogg School of Management.
Neelima Firth, M.B.A.
Neelima is an experienced biopharmaceutical executive with extensive scientific, reimbursement, marketing, and international experience in startup and Fortune 500 biopharmaceutical companies, including GSK, Bristol Myers Squibb, Sandoz, and Amgen. Neelima was Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at Amgen, where she led the strategic-planning and operations group. She built strong relationships with alliance partners and managed the brand plan across Amgen and Wyeth. She is a skilled business-planning manager who leads change-management initiatives to solve critical business problems.
Neelima worked at Amgen for 16 years in a series of increasingly senior roles in clinical, marketing, and reimbursement in the United Kingdom and United States. Her accomplishments include developing compendia strategy, managing Medicare and Medicaid marketing strategies, creating alliance management governance, and managing brand-planning processes. In addition, Neelima was instrumental in building Amgen’s initial U.K./European presence to support the launch of new products.
Neelima has worked in medical roles at Bristol Myers, Sandoz, and GSK in the United Kingdom, where she was actively involved in and responsible for launching products into European markets.
Neelima has an information science degree from Leeds Metropolitan University, a certificate in legal studies from Cambridge University, and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.
Elyce Freeman, R.Ph., Pharm.D.
Elyce is a clinical pharmacist with more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry. She started her career in managed care pharmacy with QualMed Plans for Health in 1996. For nearly 10 years, Elyce held positions of increasing responsibility with two managed care organizations in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her responsibilities included directing operations related to the pharmacy prior program, high-cost injectable program, and customer service support for pharmacies, providers, and internal departments. Elyce was also involved in the design of the Medicare Part D formulary benefit for her private-payer organization and she previously led the pharmacy systems support team responsible for pharmacy benefit coding, benefit testing, and pharmacy benefits manager vendor claim interfaces.
Before joining The Aequitas Group, Elyce worked as a healthcare consultant with a focus on payer policy research, strategic planning, and payer advocacy efforts for private payers to address reimbursement and managed care challenges for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device products.
Elyce is currently a licensed pharmacist in Pennsylvania and she has worked as a staff pharmacist in the hospital setting. She is a member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. Elyce received a Pharm.D. and a B.S. in pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.
Robert A. Freeman, Ph.D.
Bob has a unique blend of consulting, academic, and pharmaceutical-industry experience in health economics and outcomes research, strategic pricing, and public policy. He is presently Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Director of Graduate Studies at Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center. Previously, he headed global and U.S. health economics and public policy functions at AstraZeneca, Sterling Winthrop (now Sanofi-Aventis), G.D. Searle, and The Upjohn Company (now Pfizer), where he directed economic evaluations for all major therapeutic categories in all major markets and customer segments. Bob is the author of more than 70 publications, monographs, book chapters, and white papers. He is also the editor of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Finance, Economics & Policy.
Bob holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in health care administration and a B.S. in pharmacy from the University of Mississippi.
Andrea Goicoechea, RN, PHN
Senior Clinical Analyst
Andrea is a registered nurse with 25 years of experience in various healthcare-delivery settings, where she has functioned as a clinical specialist and patient educator with medically high-risk populations. In addition, Andrea has broad experience as an educator in the public and healthcare professional sectors. Prior to joining The Aequitas Group, Andrea was employed at Sharp Hospital Systems in San Diego, California, where she was engaged in direct patient care, operating-room management, peer-education, and public-outreach programs. Her past employment experience also includes positions at the San Diego County Regional Occupational Program licensed vocational nurse training program, the San Diego Regional Perinatal Group education program, and the University of Colorado Medical Center, Denver.
Andrea earned a bachelor of nursing degree from the California State University system, with specialization in public-health nursing. She also received certification as a clinical nurse specialist in obstetrics through Long Beach State University/Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Moreover, she completed certification in clinical trials management through the University of California, San Diego. She is a member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and the American Nurses Association.
Melissa Mitchell, M.S., M.B.A. Manager
Melissa joined The Aequitas Group with over 10 years experience in research, clinical operations and consulting. Melissa was involved in multiple life science start-ups as an advisor and consultant focusing on business intelligence, market analysis and strategic planning for commercialization of technologies that included drugs, devices and diagnostics.
During her time at UCSD she was involved in cancer research and vaccine development against HIV and Human Papilloma Virus. Melissa worked for multiple Contract Research Organizations; then joined Vical, Inc., a biotechnology company located in San Diego. At these jobs Melissa initiated and monitored Phase I – IV clinical trials for a variety of therapeutic areas including oncology, vaccines, neurology, urology and infectious diseases.
Melissa completed her M.B.A. at the University of California, San Diego, Rady School of Management. Melissa received a B.S./M.S. degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the University of California, San Diego.
Filippo Petralia, M.B.A., M.S.
Filippo has more than 10 years of experience in the health care industry. Prior to joining The Aequitas Group, he provided corporate development, strategic planning, and financial analysis services to various biotechnology companies in the San Diego area, including Life Technologies. Petralia also provided budgeting, forecasting, and marketing support for a life science venture capital firm.
Filippo has experience in corporate development, market analysis, forecasting, and strategic planning for companies that are developing diagnostics in cancer and autoimmunity. He has also worked with companies that are developing pharmaceutical products in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, benign prostatic hyperplasia, autoimmunity, and age-related macular degeneration.
Before working in the business side of the biotechnology field, Filippo worked as a bench scientist. In this capacity, he conducted research in immunology.
Filippo obtained his M.B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, Rady School of Management. He also received an M.S. in molecular immunopathology from the University of Milan–Bicocca in Italy.
Hafsa Quadri, MS
Senior Business Analyst
Hafsa has a master’s degree in pharmacy administration, with an emphasis on health-outcomes research, epidemiology, and biostatistics. As a graduate of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Hafsa is well trained to adapt to the many changes that affect our healthcare system. Prior to joining the Aequitas Group, Hafsa coordinated publications and course design and development at the University of the Sciences.
Hafsa is an experienced healthcare database analyst who is extensively trained in Statistical Analysis System (SAS), Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), and Stata (general-purpose statistical software package). Hafsa is also skilled in accessing and manipulating various public-payor databases, such as the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and other Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality databases, the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention databases, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Limited Data Set files.
Adrienne Sherman, M.P.H., M.S. Manager
Adrienne Sherman is a Nurse Practitioner with considerable experience delivering patient care in a variety of clinical settings, including hospitals, urgent care centers and family health clinics. In addition, Adrienne has broad experience as a Nurse Trainer, educating patients and other medical professionals on the use of community resources as a Public Health specialist. Prior to joining The Aequitas Group, she worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a researcher with the Global Market Access group at Pfizer, Inc. In this capacity, Adrienne prepared drug and indication-specific health technology assessment overviews and evaluated the global reimbursement environments for drugs in development through analysis of regulatory data and assessment of competitive landscapes. Adrienne’s particular combination of experience in the pharmaceutical manufacturer setting and extensive clinical background allows her to provide a unique perspective to the clients of The Aequitas Group.
Adrienne earned an M.P.H. and M.S. in Nursing from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Vanderbilt University.
Wendy D. Smith, Pharm.D., BCPS
Wendy is a clinical specialist in drug information within the Division of Pharmacy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She also holds appointments as an adjunct clinical assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Administration at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and as a clinical instructor at the University of Texas at Austin. Wendy is a licensed pharmacist in both Texas and Florida and is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. Before joining MD Anderson, Wendy worked as a clinical specialist in drug information and formulary management at the Methodist Hospital in Houston.
Wendy is active in several local, state, and national organizations. She served as chair-elect of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s Drug Information PRN Group and was the recipient of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacist Pharmacy Resident Medication Safety Grant in 2002. Wendy serves on several institutional committees related to drug use policy and medication safety. She also serves as a preceptor for MD Anderson’s specialty pharmacy practice residency programs as well as a preceptor for pharmacy students.
Wendy’s research interests include drug-interaction alert systems, medication safety-related issues, drug-information databases, and formulary management. Wendy received her doctorate of pharmacy from the University of Louisiana, Monroe, in 2002. She then completed a pharmacy practice residency and drug information pharmacy practice residency at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida.
Beverley has 30 years of experience in pharmaceutical information, intellectual property, and marketing. The first 9 years of her career were spent as an information specialist for one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, where she dealt extensively with patents and peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature. She then spent an additional 9 years working at a senior level for two of the most prominent pharmaceutical information-service providers. Beverley is particularly interested in intellectual property and how it relates to pharmaceutical life-cycle management and market analysis.
Senior Business Analyst
James Tam joined The Aequitas Group in 2008 as a business analyst. Prior to joining The Aequitas Group, James worked on pharmaceutical research using ultra-high-throughput assay technology at a San Diego biotechnology firm. While completing degrees in biotechnology and economics, James worked as a researcher in the University of California, San Diego’s bioengineering department. His work in support of cellular biophotonics was recognized as critical in the application of a laser optical trapping system to the study of cellular biochemical pathways and was subsequently published in the Journal of Cell Physiology.
Rhonda Welch M.A., CPC Senior Director
Rhonda is an experienced professional with more than 15 years in the healthcare industry. Her areas of expertise include reimbursement, marketing, and strategic planning. Rhonda was Director of Reimbursement and Health Policy at Biosense Webster, Johnson & Johnson. In this position, her responsibilities included developing tier 1 evidence for electrophysiology procedures; the final results were published in Circulation. Rhonda also integrated evidence generation, claim development, and value proposition into the new product development process. As Marketing Director at Biosense Webster, Rhonda gained extensive expertise with numerous product launches and had global responsibility for a three-dimensional navigation system platform. She also worked in the International Marketing and Sales Division, where she was responsible for representing the entire franchise portfolio. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Rhonda held multiple positions at a cardiovascular franchise of Baxter, now Edwards Lifesciences. There, she was responsible for product marketing for heart valves, annuloplasty devices, and interventional cardiology products.
Rhonda has worked as a consultant to Allergan on various projects for the facial aesthetics group. Her consulting activities included strategic planning, assessment of new market opportunities, new product launch plans, and product positioning and messaging.
Rhonda received her master’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and is a certified member of the American Academy of Professional Coders.
Don Wentzel, MD
Don has nearly 20 years of experience as a physician executive for regional and national health plans. At both Blue Shield and Blue Cross of California, Don served in leadership roles related to technology assessment, coverage policy, claims payment logic, provider negotiations, and clinical outcomes measurement. More recently, Don was an independent medical coverage policy consultant for WellPoint Health Networks and a number of device and biotechnology firms. He is a member of the National Pharmacy and Therapeutics Society and has been a managed care representative at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regional carrier advisory councils.
Don received his M.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine and is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is the recent recipient of a medical-informatics research fellowship from the National Library of Medicine and was previously awarded research fellowships from the California Heart Association and the University of California.
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