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In a move that signals its stepped-up legislative and public policy agenda, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association has hired Ralph G. Neas as its new president and CEO.
Neas is leaving the same post at the National Coalition on Health Care; he previously headed People for the American Way. His arrival at the helm of GPhA signals what the association dubbed “an aggressive outreach effort” to deliver its message on Capitol Hill, in state legislatures and the media that generic drugs play a critical role in containing health care costs.
In his new position, Neas will continue to work closely with the NCHC’s Cost Containment Alliance, an ad hoc coalition that includes such diverse players as labor unions, small businesses, insurance companies and the corporations Verizon and Wal-Mart.
In a memo to reporters, Neas announced what he called the “bittersweet news.” He called last year’s health care reform debate “one of the most important of my career,” and said he is “excited to continue my work on behalf of more sustainable, less costly health care” at GPhA.
Before joining the NCHC in 2009, Neas earned a national reputation as a civil rights and public welfare advocate as president and CEO of People for the American Way, and before that as head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. In a 1995 Senate floor statement, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) called Neas the “101st Senator for Civil Rights.”
At GPhA, Neas takes over from Kathleen Jaeger, who left last year. Vice President of Policy Bob Billings has been filling in for Jaeger on an interim basis. Neas’s successor at NCHC will be announced “later this week,” said coalition spokeswoman Lindsay Harnish.