Pharmacy Graduate Who Predicted 2004 Flu Vaccine Shortage Owns Successful Company in Oxford


Medical Marketing Economics advises international pharmaceutical firms from near the Oxford Square. The firm’s partners include (front, left to right) Bill Lobb, Brian Reisetter and Mick Kolassa and (back row) Doug Paul and Kevin Patterson.

Miss. – A University of Mississippi pharmacy graduate, who gained
national attention by predicting the 2004 flu vaccine shortage two
years before it hit, is running his own successful business, with
international implications in pharmacy pricing.

E.M. “Mick”
Kolassa, who earned his doctorate in pharmacy at the UM School of
Pharmacy in 1995, owns Medical Marketing Economics, which deals with
research and pricing strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. Housed
in an unassuming tan building just south of the Oxford Square, the
company is making a difference of international proportions.

little company has been growing 33 percent a year – and that was our
slowest year – just by advising multinational corporations a block off
the Square,” Kolassa said. “The greatest compliment I get from clients
is, ‘we like it when you’re here, because you make us think.'”

“thinking” gained attention in 2004 when a flu vaccine shortage swept
the U.S. He had predicted such a crisis some two years earlier, and
with the help of two UM pharmacy graduate students, he put his thoughts
in writing.

“When the shortage hit, the paper had been circulated, and I was suddenly on the radio, doing talk shows,” Kolassa said. People still call on him for information and consultation about flu vaccine.

However, Kolassa is busy with his business, which includes working on 80 research projects and overseeing 35 employees, eight of whom are UM pharmacy administration graduates.

The company recently merged with a firm in New Jersey, has offices in Europe and added two new partners to advise clients on marketing strategies and market research. MME’s tagline was “profit from our thinking,” but, since taking on the new partners, that has been expanded to “learn from our experience, profit from our thinking.”

Kolassa was first invited to come to Ole Miss in 1992 as a guest lecturer by Mickey K. Smith, who retired last year as F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy Administration and is professor emeritus of pharmacy administration.

“I had never heard of Mick until I started to try to find out something about how the drug industry decides on prices, and everyone I spoke with said ‘Talk to Kolassa.’ I invited him down to Ole Miss to speak, and he liked us and we liked him. The next thing I knew he was doing a Ph.D. under my direction, and the rest is history,” Smith said.

Even though Kolassa officially retired from the university in 2002, he is an adjunct professor of pharmacy. He says he will never forget his Ole Miss connections, which is demonstrated by his hiring the last three pharmacy administration Ph.D. graduates as full-time employees.

“Very frequently we involve faculty and graduate students in our work here,” Kolassa said. “We are products of the School of Pharmacy and the pharmacy administration department, and there is a linkage there that can’t be broken. Our first choice is always people with a background in pharmacy administration.”

Recently, MME donated $350,000 to support the UM School of Pharmacy as part of the university’s MomentUM campaign. The gift will support the pharmacy school in three different ways: $150,000 will create and endow the MME Fellowship in Pharmacy Administration, another $150,000 will create a general fund to support the school and the remaining amount will support the Science Library in the Thad Cochran Research Center.

“Our company, MME, wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy,” Kolassa said. “It is where many of us met, the source of many of our employees and a major source of pride for all of us. We see this gift as a way for us to give back.

Kolassa also is cognizant of giving back to the community. “I’ve taken risks in my career, and the business has been very successful,” he said. “We at MME have been fortunate to be able to give back to the community by supporting graduate assistantships in the pharmacy administration program, as well as bringing back access to online journals for pharmacy students.” They also support the Interfaith Compassion Ministry and the Boys and Girls Club, where they helped install new basketball courts and supported other projects.

Kolassa has held several positions in the field of pharmaceutical pricing and economics, including vice president of Strategic Pricing Group in Boston and director of pricing and economic policy with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals. He has held pricing and marketing positions with the Upjohn Company, Fidelity Mutual Savings Bank and Old National Bank.

He received his master’s degree from Eastern Washington University and is the co-author of “Pharmaceutical Marketing: Principles, Environment and Practice” (Haworth Press, 2002), and author of “Elements of Pharmaceutical Pricing” (Haworth Press, 1997). An update to the latter, “The Strategic Pricing of Pharmaceuticals,” is due out in early 2009, with all royalties to be donated to the university and local charities. He also has a column titled “The Marketing Insider” in the trade magazine PM360.

In his spare time, Kolassa is an avid fly fisherman who ranks Belize as his favorite destination. He is planning his third trip to the Central American region.

For more information on MME, go to . For more information on the UM School of Pharmacy, go to .