National Pharmaceutical Council Appoints John M. O’Brien as President and CEO


The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of evidence, science and medical innovation, today announced the appointment of veteran drug pricing and health policy expert John M. O’Brien, Pharm.D., MPH, as president and chief executive officer.

O’Brien, who will assume the role on June 1, will be responsible for overseeing NPC’s policy research and communications capacity, partnerships with other health care organizations, and strategic vision.

O’Brien’s broad experience spans the private sector, academia and government. Prior to joining NPC, O’Brien was senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and deputy assistant secretary of planning and evaluation (health policy). He has also held senior policy positions in the life sciences and managed care industries, including at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, was a career official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) during the Obama administration, and served as a health policy fellow in the U.S. Senate.

“John brings to NPC a keen understanding of the issues facing both health care and the innovative biopharmaceutical industry, as well as a deep understanding of the important role NPC plays within the broader health care environment,” said Michael L. Ryan, Pharm.D., chair of NPC’s Board of Directors and senior vice president, Worldwide Value, Access, Pricing and Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Bristol Myers Squibb.

“John’s passion for health care and deep expertise will benefit NPC tremendously as it continues to explore, demonstrate and communicate the role and value of innovative biopharmaceuticals to achieve better patient health,” said Blasine Penkowski, chief strategic customer officer, Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems. Penkowski led NPC’s executive search committee and served as the 2020 chair of NPC’s Board of Directors.

“I became a pharmacist because I was fascinated by the prescription medicines that made a difference in my family’s health. I have since dedicated my career to improving medication use,” O’Brien said. “Seeing my parents and tens of millions of other Americans get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 invigorates my appreciation for biopharmaceutical innovation. There has never been a more important time to continue NPC’s legacy of working with leading researchers to develop evidence demonstrating the value of medicines, and address tough policy questions about affordability and access.”

O’Brien will replace interim president and CEO Robert Dubois, M.D., Ph.D., who assumed the role after Dan Leonard left NPC in September 2020. Dubois will continue his role as chief science officer and executive vice president.

“I am honored to welcome John to the executive leadership team at NPC. His proven track record in the national health policy community and broad experience across health care will be central to NPC’s ongoing pursuit of sound evidence and forward-looking thinking,” Dubois said.

O’Brien earned his doctorate in pharmacy at Nova Southeastern University, his master’s degree in public health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and studied pharmacy and public policy at the University of Florida. His post-graduate experience includes the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Executive Fellowship in Association Management and Leadership and the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Certified Health Insurance Executive Fellowship.

He has held a number of academic appointments, including senior fellow at the USC-Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, clinical assistant professor at the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship program, and assistant professor of clinical and administrative sciences at the Notre Dame of Maryland University College of Pharmacy, the first program of its kind created by a U.S. women’s college.

O’Brien has served on the boards of Pharmacy Quality Solutions, Kennedy Center Circles and the Congressional Chorus.

About the National Pharmaceutical Council

The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation's major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit and follow NPC on Twitter @npcnow.

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