Dima Samaha, Certara, Senior Director - Value Strategy & Payer Insights

What drives your passion for health tech assessment and health economics?

Health economics and health technology assessment (HTA) allow me to passionately apply my knowledge of pharmacy, economics and policy to healthcare system challenges. During my WHO internship in Switzerland the focus was to strengthen healthcare infrastructure in low- and middle- income countries for wide-scale, public health impact, which was and still is exciting to me. At Certara, I help advance the science of systematic value assessment in healthcare, where the methods being applied and standards are rapidly evolving. Decision makers face trade-offs between advancing technology, providing access and ensuring sustainability. Striking the right balance isn’t easy, but it’s inspiring when we get it right.

What inspires you to succeed?

My career started at the WHO on the Priority Medical Devices project, which strove for availability, appropriateness and affordability in improving global access to medical devices. Contributing to a global goal has always been my measure of success. I like to think of us at Certara as one link in a chain of contributors that brings efficacious and effective health solutions to all people. We engage with doctors and patients, use real-world data to inform value assessments, and when a product for which we have consolidated the evidence base becomes available, I know we have improved patient care.

Which successes are you most proud of?

At the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS), Quebec’s HTA agency, we developed a framework to support decision-making on cancer drugs through innovative contracting and coverage with evidence development. Years later, it was gratifying to see the concepts enacted into a law. More recently, we have been engaging with clinicians, payers and regulators to help communicate the value of therapies, using multi-criteria decision frameworks. The HTA community and decision makers now use our insights as part of their assessment of drugs for reimbursement. I am proud that we are pioneers in this area.

What do you hope to achieve in your role at Certara?

My career has been influenced by strong, empowered women, such as my grandmother Charlotte Sarraf, who headed a company in the 1950s in Lebanon. She had vision, drive and determination, and inspires me to pay it forward and support women and their professional development at Certara. While my career started in global health with the WHO and INESSS, my commercial responsibilities at Certara have broadened my knowledge of the healthcare landscape. My goal is to lead larger projects that significantly expand access to crucial therapies.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I was a pharmacist in Lebanon in 2006 when war broke out, and the WHO needed pharmacists to help provide access to essential medicines. I realised then that I wanted to contribute to global public health. Some in my life were skeptical of my career change, which was discouraging. To my younger self, I would say, “If you want to pursue something, even if it is off the beaten path, be brave and pursue it.”