Community pharmacy will prosper in the coming years if it remains focused on its priorities, executives said at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting here last month.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores, NACDS, National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting, drug stores, pharmacy, Andy Giancamilli, Steve Anderson, RxIMPACT, Snyders Drug Stores, Katz Group, community pharmacy, Richard Monks

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NACDS aims to move ahead with 'radical consistency'

May 25th, 2009
NACDS chairman Andy Giancamilli

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Community pharmacy will prosper in the coming years if it remains focused on its priorities, executives said at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting here last month.

“This association is better oriented to achieve victory than it has been in a long time,” NACDS chairman Andy Giancamilli told the nearly 2,000 retail and supplier executives at the annual gathering. “And that is why victories are coming.”

Giancamilli, who is also chief executive officer of Snyders Drug Stores and Katz Group North America, and NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson maintained that it is essential for the association and its members to continue to focus on three key areas: shaping public policy, ensuring that lawmakers and the public recognize the critical role community pharmacy plays in America’s health care system, and strengthening the relationship between chain drug retailers and suppliers through such meetings as the NACDS event.

“We need to continue boldly with the reinvention that we have set into motion,” Giancamilli said about the shift in direction that NACDS has taken in the past few years. “We need to proceed with what I will call ‘radical consistency.’

“Our current course is revolutionary and explosive. It screams, ‘We will not be denied.’ We must be committed and consistent along this radical path.”

The worldwide economic downturn, Giancamilli and Anderson observed, is reminiscent of NACDS’ infancy in the 1930s. Many of the challenges the industry faced in those days are similar to what community pharmacy faces today, they said. And just as in the wake of the Great Depression, community pharmacy must stand together to achieve its goals, they stressed.

“The days of pharmacy’s perception as an easy target are over,” Anderson said. “Much like playground politics, we have shown that, if pushed, we will stand tall. We fight fair, but we fight smart and we fight hard.”

Despite the progress it has made in recent months, NACDS and community pharmacies still have their work cut out for them, Anderson said.

He noted, for example, that shortfalls in state budgets are threatening all health care providers. And he said NACDS has drawn the ire of lawmakers and federal regulators over its stances on some issues, particularly the privacy provisions proposed as part of the health information technology section of the economic stimulus bill enacted this year.

“NACDS challenged the notion that a proposal is pro-consumer simply because a group slaps onto it the label of ‘privacy,’ Anderson said. “We put forward the truth. We put forward our brand. To their credit, congressional leaders heard us, and the tide turned.”

Still, he said, not everyone agrees with NACDS’ position and some privacy advocates insist that pharmacies routinely sell protected health information. “That is not true,” he said. “But they did not seem to care. They were hitting a nerve. And NACDS had to do even more to set the record straight.”

Going forward, the recently formed NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program will be critical in confronting what the association sees as inevitable future attacks, Anderson said.

“It is designed to assist you and other friends of pharmacy in taking a stand for better health care,” he noted. “In the face of harsh attacks, the difference maker will be your contact with your members of Congress in your districts and states.”

By working together, suppliers and retailers will have more clout, Anderson and Giancamilli said.

“The biggest advantage of NACDS is its comprehensive makeup,” Anderson remarked. “This is the association that brings together supermarkets, mass merchandisers and traditional drug stores, as well as front-end and pharmacy suppliers. “There is more that unites us than divides us.”