By David Woods (

“An opportunity and a challenge”. That’s what Alan Bakst found when he became Director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research at TAP pharmaceuticals in Chicago in August 2004. Up until then, TAP didn’t have a stable and fully staffed group in health outcomes, so the opportunity came in building the group.

That, says Alan, meant hiring staff and educating TAP senior management and others about the precise role of health economics and its value in helping the product. The challenge came from integrating the group into the corporate culture which meant being a coach, a mentor, and a public relations presence for the often only vaguely-perceived science of health economics.

Before coming to TAP, Alan, trained as a clinical pharmacist, worked at Glaxo SmithKline for 10 years as an outcomes researcher and health economist. During that time he earned an MBA at Philadelphia’s Temple University, with a focus on marketing.

TAP has some 3500 employees and an ancestry that is both Japanese through Takeda and American through Abbott; its main products include Prevacid for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and Lupron, a drug for prostate cancer. The company has several products in late phase development, including a therapy for gout.

An additional aspect of Alan’s work is in setting up ISPOR’s first US regional chapter in Illinois – and serving as its inaugural president. The chapter’s primary goal, he says, is to bring local health outcomes researchers together to network and share their research. The organisation is in place and its first full meeting was held on 19 April at TAP.

Alan’s wife Karen is a hospital pharmacist and he has a daughter of 22 and a son of 20. When not promoting health economics and outcomes research, he enjoys golf and poker.

“I look forward to receiving HOC,” he says “ because it keeps me in the loop of current activities in the world of health outcomes and interesting techniques to keep in mind when communicating health economics information to others”.