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USYD pharmacist: my career in health economics

11 December 2018
Increasing Australian's access to prescription drugs
Getting a drug listed on the PBS can take up to three years, but it’s crucial to providing affordable medicines to the community. Hear how pharmacy alumna Rita Karamy has used her career in pharmacy to improve healthcare.
Rita Karamy

Rita Karamy BPharm 2005

After graduating with a Bachelor of Pharmacy in 2005, Rita worked in urban and semi-rural community pharmacy and specialised in compounding. 

She then moved into medical affairs related roles at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, initially in the Medical Information and Communication department (a common progression from pharmacy), then in customer-facing roles tracking patient journeys.

Rita became “intrigued by the challenges of having constrained resources and how these could be allocated to achieve efficiency and equity in healthcare access.” She wanted to upskill and understand how she could positively contribute to healthcare beyond pharmacy, so she completed postgraduate study in health economics and policy.

Rita’s first experience submitting a proposal for listing on the PBS inspired her to move into health technology assessment, where she could directly improve access to medicines and medical services in the community.

For every PBS-listed medication that is dispensed by a pharmacist, a health technology assessment has been undergone – which can take up to 2-3 years before it is recommended.

Today, Rita is an Engagement Manager at Health Technology Analysts where she works alongside a high-calibre team.

Day-to-day, Rita works with clients in the preparation of reimbursement submissions to the Australian Department of Health and to the New Zealand Ministry of Health for consideration of funding. Her role encompasses a range of health technology assessment aspects including appraisals of clinical evidence, developing economic models, estimation of market uptake and financial impacts.

Rita also provides consultation to the Department of Health in the form of evaluating and assessing proposals for the listing of medical services such as diagnostics, devices and surgical procedures, onto the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS).

Rita enjoys her work and finds facilitating access to new treatments and creating positive health outcomes very rewarding. But she is still looking ahead.

“There are so many components of health technology assessment that are evolving, which I’d like to continue exploring,” Rita says. “Particularly with the wave of novel and more personalised treatments that are not only transforming healthcare but they are adding to budget pressures.

“Naturally, as a pharmacist, I'm interested in how the patient voice can be incorporated into reimbursement decision-making processes.

“I've considered further study avenues and eventually I'd like to broaden my experience to regional or global health technology assessment markets.

“Pharmacy can be an extremely satisfying career foundation if you find your passion and pursue it. The skills acquired through pharmacy are transferable to many other areas in healthcare.

“As healthcare demands are changing, I’m excited to see how the profession will be shaped in the coming years.”

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