Leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores underscored the group's value to members and its ability to influence public policy by communicating pharmacy's and suppliers' work to improve lives and society in remarks at the 2010 NACDS Annual Meeting.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores, NACDS, NACDS Annual Meeting, Steve Anderson, Andy Giancamilli, pharmacy, drug stores, chain drug industry, health care, health care reform, RxImpact, Medicare, Medicaid, pharmacy reimbursement, durable medical equipment, NACDS Foundation, Edith Rosato

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Anderson: Industry delivering a health 'renaissance'

April 26th, 2010
NACDS chief executive Steve Anderson

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores underscored the group's value to members and its ability to influence public policy by communicating pharmacy's and suppliers' work to improve lives and society in remarks at the 2010 NACDS Annual Meeting.

"A consistent theme emerges among the companies represented here within the NACDS membership — pharmacy and front end, retailers and suppliers alike," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in an address Sunday at the Annual Meeting, which is being held in Palm Beach, Fla., through Tuesday. "Though you differentiate in the marketplace, improving lives emerges as the common value you offer to the public. Collectively, your companies' competition to deliver value is creating a rebirth. Call it a health and wellness renaissance, with innovations focused on patients and consumers."

Anderson noted that the chain drug sector is "delivering a renaissance of health and wellness" and after being "under siege for decades" is now "seeing the results of being better understood."

"This industry has been doing some amazing things, but without due credit," he explained. "It has been like an industry before its time, with innovations and potential that just have not been realized by the rest of the world. ... Together, we are creating a renaissance. I am convinced people will look back 20 or 30 years from now and will see these times — our times — as a historic, watershed moment."

NACDS made the industry's presence felt during the national health care reform debate with its consistent message of pharmacies as "the face of neighborhood health care," Anderson pointed out. And as the executive branch agencies write the regulations to implement the new health care reform law, NACDS will remain highly engaged, he added.

"At this very meeting, in past years, we said this [health care reform] debate would give pharmacy a new chance to tell our story. It did, and we seized the moment," Anderson stated. "Members of Congress really started to get it when we talked about poor medication adherence being responsible for $290 billion in added costs every year. That’s 13% of health expenditures. NACDS established pharmacy as a major part of the solution."

He noted the inclusion of pharmacy issues in the health care reform law, covering such areas as advancing medication therapy management; softening the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts under the average manufacturer price (AMP) model; providing a conditional exemption for pharmacies from the Medicare durable medical equipment (DME) accreditation requirement; expanding Medicaid coverage; taking steps to close the "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D; and maintaining Medicare Part D vaccine coverage.

On the Medicaid AMP issue, Anderson said the law validated pharmacy's strategy to challenge the flawed regulations that implemented the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, while working to change the law through a long-term legislative solution. He noted that the preliminary injunction won by NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association has blocked $5.5 million in cuts to pharmacy each day, and more than $4.6 billion in cuts since January 1, 2008.

"Do you want to talk about an issue that is vital to the pharmacy and to the front end alike?" Anderson said. "Imagine the forced closing of more than 11,000 pharmacies — 20% of all stores. That's ugly."

Also speaking at the Annual Meeting was outgoing NACDS chairman Andy Giancamilli, who is being succeeded by Larry Merlo, president of CVS/pharmacy and executive vice president at CVS Caremark Corp.

Giancamilli, who is CEO of Rexall Pharma Plus, said the credit for NACDS' accomplishments goes to a diverse, engaged membership and a member-focused staff committed to achieving results. He offered members three lessons to build on NACDS' results.

First, Giancamilli noted the vital role of the NACDS board and of member company representatives in shaping NACDS' advocacy for pro-pharmacy, pro-patient policy during the health care reform debate. "The NACDS governance has been intimately involved in the direction of this association's advocacy throughout this process, in which twists and turns have been the rule rather than the exception," he said.

Second, Giancamilli stressed the importance of the diversity of NACDS’ membership, which brings together retailers and suppliers on common issues and goals. He noted NACDS' work to foster medication adherence, an issue that he said "unites chains and associates ... on the pharmacy side and those in the front end who have told us that a strong pharmacy is good for the entire enterprise." He also cited the partnership between NACDS and technology provider RollStream that provides a compliance solution for new regulations establishing additional testing and documentation requirements for specific substances found in consumer products.

And referring to engagement of the pharmacy community in NACDS' public policy advocacy and political programs, Giancamilli remarked, "The third lesson that I take away from my service as chairman is that everything we are doing today truly is creating a legacy of greater success in the future."

He spotlighted the importance of getting involved and the successes of the first and second annual NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill events. Through the program, pharmacy advocates participate in Capitol Hill meetings to talk about the value of pharmacy in health care delivery and to describe NACDS positions on key issues. He noted statistics reflecting dramatically increased participation in the second year compared with the first year, including a 67% increase in total individuals conducting meetings with their elected officials in Washington, D.C.

"Despite our remarkable progress, I know that NACDS' greatest work in political engagement lies ahead," Giancamilli stated.

In other NACDS news, Anderson announced in his capacity as chairman of the NACDS Foundation, on behalf of NACDS Foundation president Edith Rosato and the foundation's board, a $150,000 contribution from the foundation to help the people of Haiti, with $50,000 to be donated to each of the following organizations: Doctors Without Borders, AmeriCares and Convoy of Hope.

"This reflects the many, many steps that all of you have made to assist Haiti at this time," Anderson told attendees.