Alumni Spotlight: Robert Popovian, PharmD ’93, MS ’96

Robert Popovian, PharmD ’93 and MS ’96, was in USC Mann’s first class to graduate with a master’s degree in pharmaceutical economics and policy. He now serves as vice president of U.S. government relations at Pfizer, working on state and federal healthcare policy and legislative issues.

Why did you choose USC Mann?

I realized how economics drives human behavior — whether it has to do with one’s financial interests or health. I chose USC because the faculty had a broad background in economics, public health or public policy, unlike other programs where the faculty were primarily pharmacists.

Could you share some of your career highlights?

I worked in outcomes research and medical affairs at Pfizer in addition to government relations and was one of the first individuals in the industry to secure outcomes data regarding the labeled indication of a biopharmaceutical. Additionally, I was one of the first field-based medical directors for Pfizer, which led to the permanent establishment of the division at the company. I also have published and presented extensively on the impact of biopharmaceuticals and health policies on healthcare costs and clinical outcomes. Finally, I serve as a board member of Global Healthy Living Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with chronic illness.

What advice do you have for students?

Always challenge yourself. Put your best foot forward at every opportunity. There are also several resources I recommend: Drug Channels and Pink Sheet are must reads for anyone involved in healthcare and especially pharmaceutical economics and policy. Most importantly, keep in touch with the faculty at USC Mann and the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics. They provide great content on various topics of importance in health-care policy and economics. They can also be a powerful sounding board to discuss various issues that come up during your career.