Inside This Issue - News
NACDS calls for member engagement
May 20th, 2013
PALM BEACH, Fla. – Shaping public policy is vital to improving patient outcomes, Bob Narveson said in his first remarks as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Speaking at the NACDS Annual Meeting, the president and chief executive officer of Thrifty White Pharmacy urged association members to participate actively in realizing community pharmacy’s potential.
For his part, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said chain pharmacy has awakened from the “peaceful slumber” that disadvantaged the industry in its early days. Yet confronting inconsistent government policies requires continued vigilance, he said.
Narveson left no doubt regarding his feelings for the pharmacy profession, saying “I hope my passion for pharmacy shines through, because it’s one of the most powerful motivators in my life’s work.” Describing the oath of the pharmacist, he said “it’s worth asking if today’s approach to health care delivery, and today’s government policies, utilize the pharmacist to optimize the value of pharmacy.”
He noted NACDS’ substantial progress in boosting awareness within the government of community pharmacy’s value, and in formulating public policy. Future industry advancement will require further evolution of government’s view of pharmacy, he said. “It’s the difference between one model focusing on outcomes and total health care spend, and another commodities-based model focusing only on drug spend and not the total health care cost.”
The focus on outcomes and on the ability of pharmacy services to reduce total health care costs will continue to increase in significance with the aging of America, with the increase in covered individuals as a result of health care reform, and with the substantial costs associated with nonadherence to medication therapies, said Narveson.
“I often cite the words of the late C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general of the United States: ‘Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.’ Great statement. All we need is the access to the patient and programs that support adherence and we can make it happen.”
He described programs within Thrifty White — and within the diverse NACDS chain membership and through collaboration with associate members — that help boost medication adherence. He also provided examples of the public policy agenda that can help in this area, citing legislation to enhance medication therapy management accessibility within Medicare Part D; expansion of the role of pharmacists in accountable care organizations and other new delivery models; a keen focus on the implementation of health care reform; and enhanced oversight of Medicare Part D network operations, including preferred networks.
To help maximize the potential of community pharmacy to improve patient outcomes, Narveson noted the importance of hosting members of Congress for pharmacy tours through the NACDS RxImpact Day grassroots advocacy program.
“Those who write our laws and formulate our rules need to see our stores so they can see pharmacies as the face of neighborhood health care,” he said, noting the power of seeing in action today’s pharmacy services such as MTM, immunizations, brown bag medication reviews, hospital discharge programs, medication synchronization programs, and regular pharmacist-patient touch points.
“When they see these services, and the relationship between customers and their local pharmacists, it becomes clear we can serve as the front line of health care and the first opportunity for prevention, and reduce health care costs for the customer.”
Working through NACDS to have the industry’s voice heard is critical, he added. “In any industry there’s not going to be total agreement on every issue,” Narveson said. “But what unites us is much, much stronger than any differing view. And what unites us all‚ the patient and the consumer — is worth fighting for together.”
Reflecting on the association’s 80-year history, Anderson read from a 1938 progress report delivered by then-NACDS secretary F.J. Griffiths of Pennsylvania Drug Co., looking back on the organization’s first five years.
“Until the last few years no concerted effort of any kind had been made by the chains to …function as [they] should when questions affecting the industry arose — I mean not only legislation, but questions of relationship between manufacturers and distributors,” Griffiths reported to the NACDS executive committee. “While we were slumbering peacefully, the other branches of the industry were actively supporting organizations — who were looking after the interests of their members.”
Anderson held up NACDS’ approach to the current rendition of health care reform as an example of living up to the founders’ vision for an aggressive and forward-thinking association.
“We didn’t engage in the political gamesmanship that surrounded the legislation, and we didn’t take a position on it as a whole,” Anderson said. “But we improved the law governing pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement, and advanced medication therapy management in Medicare, among other programs. Much of the importance of the health care reform debate lies in the opportunity it presented to educate those in power about what pharmacy and suppliers do together.”
Reflecting on NACDS’ eight decades in existence, Anderson concluded by saying, “I love history. It’s not just a musty recollection of actions that people did. It is a story about how people that preceded us set the stage for us to do our work to achieve great things. My friends, on this, the 80th, anniversary of NACDS, I’m here to tell you that we are writing history and you are historic figures.”