This month the National Association of Chain Drug Stores will sponsor events that intersect with two of the great issues of the day — the economy and health care reform.

NACDS, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Marketplace Conference, RxImpact Day, Carol Kelly, Jeffrey Woldt

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Inside This Issue - Opinion

Upcoming NACDS events merit support

June 8th, 2009

This month the National Association of Chain Drug Stores will sponsor events that intersect with two of the great issues of the day — the economy and health care reform.

Their outcome will provide a good indication of the view chain pharmacy operators and consumer products manufacturers have of the current business climate, and their willingness to tackle problems whose significance transcends the results of any individual company.

Set to begin on June 28 in Boston, the Marketplace Conference is the largest annual gathering of mass market retailers and suppliers involved in keeping the front-end business vibrant. Encompassing product categories ranging from over-the-counter medications, personal care items and cosmetics to consumables, photo and seasonable goods, the event offers an ideal venue to gauge the state of the market and develop joint strategies to accelerate its revival.

No other trade show is as effective at bringing together top-level merchandising and marketing executives, buyers, and category managers from retail companies and their counterparts from the supplier community. Retailers and suppliers serious about forging stronger partnerships, developing a better understanding of the changing needs of consumers and coming up with new ways to address them should seize the unique opportunity Marketplace affords.

Manufacturers would do well to embrace the show for the chance it gives them to demonstrate the strength of their business, the continued allure of their offerings and their confidence in the future. At the same time, retailers can reiterate their ongoing support for suppliers and the innovation they bring to the market.

An even more important test of community pharmacy’s resolve will come earlier in the month when NACDS members blitz Capitol Hill to provide input on health care reform legislation now taking shape in congressional committees.

More than 100 industry representatives will participate in a coordinated effort to convince key members of the House and Senate that pharmacy’s top two priorities — stopping reductions in payments for prescriptions filled under the Medicaid program, and fostering greater use of medication therapy management — are addressed.

NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill will take place on June 17, and the schedule could not be more advantageous.

“The gods of timing were with us when we chose this date because the members of Congress will be right in the thick of it,” says Carol Kelly, NACDS’ senior vice president of government affairs and public policy. “It’s the right moment to have pharmacy executives and pharmacists in white coats talking to them about the need to include pharmacy in a reformed health care system and what a difference we can make.”

The delegation — including half a dozen NACDS board members, vice presidents and directors of pharmacy, as well as professionals who work on the front lines — will be divided into teams to cover as much ground as possible. Kelly expects them to meet with some 160 congressional offices during the course of the day.

Marketplace and NACDS RxImpact Day are poised to advance the cause of chain pharmacy — the former by facilitating interaction among business partners, the latter by helping secure a more prominent place for the industry in a health care system that appears to be on the brink of fundamental change. Both merit broad-based participation because, in the end, the only way the chain pharmacy industry can accomplish its goals is with the active support of the companies that comprise it.