Dr Ram Kamath – Mangalorean Star

Dr Ram Kamath – Mangalorean Star

Mangalorean.com is proud to present to you one of the finest personalities of Mangalorean Community. Recently, Governor, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of Illinois, appointed Dr. Ram Kamath to be the Special Advocate for Prescription Drugs, for the state of Illinois in USA. We are glad to find this hidden gem. Mangalorean.com salutes Dr. Kamath for his achievements.

Mangalorean.com salutes Dr Kamath for his achievements.

Here we present a brief history and an interview.

Dr Ram Kamath was born on October 25, 1952 in Mangalore. He is the first child born to Mr. Mulki Nagesh Kamath and Mrs. Manorama Kamath of Hejamadi, with a sibship of a brother and three sisters. Dr. Kamath attended Board High School in Hejamadi. He holds a B.Sc and B. Pharm degrees from the University of Mysore, and a Diploma in Production Management from the SIES Institute of Management Studies, Bombay, India. He came to USA on March 18, 1979. Dr. Kamath holds a Doctorate in Pharmacy from the Chicago College of Pharmacy.

Within two months of his arrival to USA, Dr. Kamath joined Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company in Greensboro, North Carolina, and worked for almost 2 years. He wanted to get Pharmacist License, and only three states – California, Illinois, and New York were giving license to foreign pharmacy graduates. Dr. Kamath applied in all three states and Illinois was the first one to respond hence, he moved to Illinois.

Dr Kamath held many positions as Pharmacist, Non-Physician Teaching Assistant, Pharmacy Supervisor, Pharmacy Benefits Manager and presently, Director of Pharmacy of Dryer Medical Clinic, Advocate Health Care, in Aurora, Illinois.

Dr Kamath tied knots with his lovely wife Basti Gayatri Shenoy of Dongerkeri, Mangalore, on February 25, 1982. Together they have two daughters, Seema, will be senior in high school this year, currently visiting her favorite summer holiday place in Mangalore, and Megan is going to 3rd grade. Both daughters are very good dancers.

A brief interview with Dr Ram Kamath:

What was your goal when you came to this country?
“When I came here, I wanted to learn pharmaceutical manufacturing technology. ”
Do you think you succeeded?

“During the course of last several years I became more interested in managed care pharmacy. I think you just keep learning and doing the best you can.”

What prompted the governor to appoint you for this position?

“After the Governor was elected, transition team meetings were held. Some members of the team knew me and they were calling me about prescription drugs purchasing, and increasing costs of drugs. They invited me to attend some meetings. Since I was out of town, I could not attend. However, I always provided feedback. They asked for my CV and requested to meet with the Governor’s staff. After few meetings they offered me this position.”

What was your reaction?

“I was very honored and humbled by the Governor’s decision.”

What is your plan in cutting down the cost in favor of the government?

“Plans are still being formulated. My colleague Scott McKibbin and I were appointed on the same day. $120 million has already been taken out of the budget with anticipation that we will be able to save this amount. The fiscal year for the State begins on Tuesday, July 1. Consolidating prescription drug purchases across all agencies is top on our agenda.”

What is your strategic plan in achieving this goal?

“Increasing the market share of drugs listed on Preferred Drug List to maximize rebates to the State, encouraging generic use, consolidating purchases across agencies are some initiatives we are pursuing.”

In what areas you intend to cut the cost and whom this will adversely affect?

“I don’t think taxpayers will be adversely affected. The savings will come from drug manufacturers who would be willing to provide additional rebates in exchange for higher volume and market share.”

Does the drug price fluctuate?

“There is no price control in the US. The manufacturers are free to price their products as they please. Usually the pharmaceutical products are priced based on the market conditions such as competition, generic availability, patent life, and FDA approved indications.”

Do you plan on buying more generic drugs?

“Average cost per month for generic drugs is around $17 – $20. The average brand name drug costs about $70-$75 per month. If more generics are used, the overall cost will be lower. Several drugs lost patent protection recently. Some of them are available to consumers at very affordable prices.

Do you emphasize on people to buy the generic drugs?

“Yes, we will encourage buying generics. The benefits are obvious.

Do you disburse more generic drugs to people who are on public aid?
“Not necessarily. If there is a generic available for a medication, it will be beneficial to use generic. There may be few situations where the doctors want the patient to get a brand drug.”

In this function what is your scope of authority?

“Governor signed an executive order on June 16th appointing the special advocates for prescription drugs. The special advocate has the authority to combine any and all of the programs and contracts at various agencies for purposes of negotiating reimbursement rates, rebates or other terms. Scott McKibbin and I will be coordinating of all prescription drugs buying for the State. ”

Do you utilize bidding process?

“State government buys all drugs sometime through competitive bidding process. Awards are made to the best offer.”

What is your message to mangalorean.com and especially, to the Mangalorean youth?

“Aim high. You don’t know where life is going to take you. Have high expectations of yourself. If you can’t dream you cannot achieve anything.”

Dr Kamath is a very soft spoken and down to earth person. It was truly a pleasure meeting him and his family who provided a warm hospitality during this interview.
Mangalorean.com wishes him all the success in his future endeavors.

Submitted by: Queenie Mendonca