AmerisourceBergen CEO talks about supply chain challenges during Smeal event

October 30, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Steven H. Collis, chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer of AmerisourceBergen, spoke in front of a packed crowd in the Business Building's Struthers Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 26. It was the third and final installment of Executive Insights this semester.

Collis has held a series of senior-level leadership positions with AmerisourceBergen and its predecessors, a pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services company that serves health care, pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers to improve patient access to products and enhance patient care.

AmerisourceBergen employs more than 20,000 people in more than 150 global offices. According to Collis, the company ships 2 million units (at an average cost of $80 each) a day from its 26 warehouses in the United States. Not only do 90 percent of the drugs that are shipped in the U.S. come from AmerisourceBergen warehouses, Collis said, but the company is also the biggest distributor to animal health hospitals and veterinarians in the U.S.

Collis spoke about a variety of topics, including:

What AmerisourceBergen does

“At base, we’re a supply chain company. We buy products from manufacturers and we distribute them every day. That sounds pretty simple, but because we’re in health care we have a lot of responsibilities on the regulation and safety side. A lot of products we distribute require refrigerating. We require a lot of licensing.”

The changing face of the company

“When you do acquisitions, and you have a public company, and you have these regulatory exposures and the legal exposures that we had, you need to take control of the centralized areas — human resources, legal, regulatory, licensing — and do that all with a very high-risk management mindset.”

The company culture

“If you have a mindset that you put yourself ahead of the mission, you won’t be successful. It happens by natural selection. People like that just don’t fit in well. People that roll up their sleeves, that get the work done, that are respectful of their colleagues … everyone who has reported to me is much more an advocate of their people than they are of themselves.”

Safety of U.S. pharmaceuticals

“By some estimates, 1 in 8, or 12 to 15 percent of prescriptions worldwide are counterfeit. That doesn’t happen in the U.S. because of the very strong importation rules that we have and the strong regulatory processes of the wholesalers. U.S. pharmaceuticals are very, very safe.”

The role of generics in the industry

“What often gets lost in the discussion is 85 percent of prescriptions are generics. Generics are highly efficient, highly affordable, and the vast majority of the prescriptions that everyone takes are very, very affordable. It’s that 15 percent that are not. What are the true breakthrough products going to be charged? What’s that right price to charge?”

Advice to students

“Do something you’re really passionate about. Maybe you think about things that are different. You might also think about the nonmonetary rewards you might get.”

About Smeal’s Executive Insights

Executive Insights is designed to complement the Smeal educational experience by bringing high-profile business leaders to the college to connect with students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Past guests include leaders from organizations such as Amazon, AmerisourceBergen, Archer Daniels Midland, Barclays, BASF, Boeing, Credit Suisse, Dell, Deloitte, Dick’s Sporting Goods, EY, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Kohl’s, KPMG, Macy’s, National Retail Federation, Nestlé, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, PwC, Samsung, Siemens, Verizon, TradeStation, Tumi Holdings Inc., and Urban Outfitters.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 30, 2018