Jonathan Watanabe Receives the Peter P. Lamy Memorial Lecture Award for Improving Care of Older Adults

Jonathan Watanabe

In this year’s American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) Awards program, UC Irvine School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences Founding Associate Dean of Pharmacy Assessment and Quality, Jonathan Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, is the 2021 recipient of The Peter P. Lamy Memorial Lecture Award.

ASCP is the leading national pharmacy organization for the care of older adults. The Peter P. Lamy Memorial Lecture is an annual keynote presentation during ASCP’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition, hosted by Dr. Nicole Brandt, professor and executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging. The Peter P. Lamy Memorial Lecture honors Dr. Lamy, a pioneer in geriatric pharmacotherapy who dedicated his life to improving drug therapy for seniors.

Brandt and Watanabe will discuss the increasing role, relevance, and need for pharmacist leadership in setting health policy. Discussions will include examples of demonstrated policy efforts that involved pharmacists and pharmacies.

“Societally, we absolutely need more pharmacists involved in shaping health policy as care becomes increasingly centered on medications and treatment in community-based settings,” Watanabe said. “More pharmacists are now solely functioning in direct patient care roles, which will become ever more important with a rapidly graying U.S. population and a shortage of primary care providers.”

His discussion will cover: reviews of two federally mandated consensus reports Watanabe was a part of to improve medication management and reduce costs and waste of medications; details on the impact of the integration of a pharmacist on healthcare savings and outcomes; the increasing role of pharmacists in the creation and changes to healthcare policy.

“Growing up, there was always a discussion about political economics, how society is influenced by economics and ways they interface with biology and health. I united them by studying pharmaceutical economics and health policy.”

Jonathan Watanabe, PharmD, PhD

Currently, Watanabe conducts research to determine factors that jeopardize appropriate medication use and mechanisms to improve access to care applying large real-world databases. Much of his work focuses on outcomes in older adults. Watanabe has completed investigations into the role of adherence on chronic conditions, effects of copayment and copayment pricing on access to medications, and the impact of polypharmacy on adherence. He continues to be a leader in multiple national programs to enhance treatment for opioid use disorder.

Watanabe credits his father, a former economist, and his mother, a biology teacher, for inspiring the trajectory of his career and research interests.

“It was a natural progression; I always had an interest in biology and health research, and my dad taught economics at the University of Utah and the University of Nebraska,” Watanabe said. “Growing up, there was always a discussion about political economics and how society is influenced by economics and ways they interface with biology and health. I united them by studying pharmaceutical economics and health policy.”

He serves as a Member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Forum on Drug, Discovery, Development, and Translation. In this capacity, he has been involved in methods development for pragmatic clinical trials through the FDA-sponsored Real-World Evidence Series with former FDA Commissioner and current head of strategy and policy at Google Health/Verily Life Sciences, Dr. Robert Califf. He served on the steering committee for the Drug Research Development in Older Adults Workshop.

Watanabe applies real-world data to develop policy solutions to improve patient care, bolster population health, enhance access and equity for marginalized populations and reduce medical costs. He contributed to the NASEM report Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative and served on the committee for the Medications in Single-Dose Vials: Implications of Discarded Drugs Report.

Peter P. Lamy, PhD, ScD (1925-1994), the namesake for this memorial award, was a legendary contributor to furthering geriatrics and gerontology during his career. Lamy also served as a consultant to local, national, and international organizations, including the American Association of Retired Persons, the World Health Organization, and the governments of Spain and Ireland.

Watanabe’s work in geriatric pharmacology draws parallels to Lamy’s contributions to the field. Watanabe has provided briefings to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, United States Senate Finance, Appropriations, House Ways and Means, Senate HELP, and House Energy and Commerce Committee and Briefings to United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Staff on the implications of discarded medications and steps to take to reduce wasted medications.

Watanabe’s research on the health implications of non-optimized medication regimens has been cited in state legislative efforts to bolster patient-centered care and medication management. He has testified before the California Senate Health Panel regarding the value of comprehensive medication management services to strengthen the health and wellness of Californians enrolled in Medicaid.

Watanabe is a consultant to the California State Legislature’s Health Benefits Review Program and served on the Advisory Group on Pain Assessment and Management in Long-Term Care Settings for the Joint Commissions. He was involved in national quality metrics development on long-term care and transitions of care with prior service on the Pharmacy Quality Alliance. He has previously served on the American Academy of Neurology Neurotherapies Workgroup on Pharmacoeconomics.

Each year the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) Awards program honors and acknowledges outstanding individuals and companies from the pharmacy profession. Award finalists and winners are honored during the ASCP Annual Meeting & Exhibition’s Richard Berman Leadership Awards Reception.

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