Retail pharmacy leaders highlighted the need for industry engagement on public policy as well as the profession's broadening role in the health care system at the the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy & Technology Conference.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy & Technology Conference, NACDS Pharmacy & Technology Conference, retail pharmacy, community pharmacy, pharmacist, Robert Loeffler, Debbie Garza, Steve Anderson, health care, H-E-B, Walgreen, pharmacy patient care, health care expenses, NACDS RxIMPACT, pharmacy advocates, Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act, health care delivery, ChecKmeds NC

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NACDS leaders spotlight 'viability of pharmacy patient care'

August 29th, 2011

BOSTON – Retail pharmacy leaders highlighted the need for industry engagement on public policy as well as the profession's broadening role in the health care system at the the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy & Technology Conference.

At the event, which began this weekend in Boston, NACDS chairman Robert Loeffler, who is chief administrative officer at H-E-B, called for even stronger grassroots engagement on public policy priorities central to pharmacy patient care.

Specifically, he urged attendees to participate in the NACDS RxIMPACT advocacy program on Capitol Hill and to chime in with their federal and state legislators on key legislation throughout the year.

"NACDS needs to confront any threat to the viability of pharmacy patient care services," Loeffler said Sunday at the NACDS Pharmacy & Technology Conference. "That said, I need to emphasize an undeniable, unavoidable, and perhaps underappreciated fact: We need your engagement."

Loeffler stressed the need to demonstrate to policymakers the importance of pro-patient policy "that reduces the nation's overall health care expenses and maintains patient care at high levels, while keeping the pharmacy industry viable."

He cited NACDS' success in marshalling the involvement of pharmacy in policy advocacy, "from those just beginning pharmacy school, to those who could write their textbooks." He said that in 2011 NACDS RxIMPACT already has nearly tripled the number of letters written in 2010 by pharmacy advocates to their legislators, from 5,000 to 14,000; that the program has generated 26 pharmacy tours in 2012; and that NACDS RxIMPACT Day has grown in participation from 150 advocates in 2009 to 350 this year. The 2012 NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill is scheduled for March 14-15.

Loeffler called on attendees to contact lawmakers in support of the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act (H.R. 1971 in the House of Representatives and S. 1058 in the Senate). "This bill includes provisions about transparency, the frequency of updating MAC pricing, networks, audits, use of data, and many of the topics that threaten many in this room, and the patients we serve," he stated.

Also on Sunday, conference chair Debbie Garza, divisional vice president of government and community relations at Walgreen Co., urged attendees across disciplines in the pharmacy profession to embrace opportunities that community pharmacy presents for good public policy.

"There is no greater value in health care delivery than community pharmacy. When I talk of value, I am not talking just about all that community pharmacists do every day to help reduce drug spend. Though that is important, pharmacy's value goes so much deeper. It is about community pharmacy — and the expertise of pharmacists — as a true partner in a comprehensive and collaborative approach to health care," Garza said at the conference. "It is about improving patient health while delivering part of the solution to driving down health costs across the spectrum by preventing more costly forms of care."

She also called on attendees to "engage in new ways to help create the future success of the entire pharmacy industry" as well as to make the case to decision-makers about the value of community pharmacy in delivering patient care and reining in costs.

"Together, we have a powerful story to tell. We need to stand up. We need to tell it. To the extent that we do just that, I am convinced that health care delivery will be all the better for it," Garza commented.

NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson on Monday hailed community pharmacy as an industry "whose record of achievements is surpassed in magnitude only by its potential."

"This is an industry whose future vision is nothing short of transformative — with the ability to fashion a more cost-effective, more efficient and more successful health care delivery system," Anderson said in his remarks at the event. “But still, this also is an industry for whose viability we need to fight at every turn."

He stressed community pharmacy's historic collaboration with public and private payers to help scale back health care expenditures but warned that the evaluation of health care economics must be done with a full view of patient-focused pharmacy services.

"Everyone needs to understand something about pharmacy: We are not going to back down on the central argument of our industry," Anderson noted. "By keeping patients healthier and preventing the need for more costly forms of care, pharmacy lowers costs across the board. And to arbitrarily cut prescription drug costs is to see other costs — even greater costs — pop up in other places."

He pointed to North Carolina's ChecKmeds NC program, in which face-to-face medication therapy management services for Medicare patients have delivered return-on-investment of $13.55 for every $1 invested.