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Regional Chain Conference: NACDS leaders sound call to action
February 6th, 2012
NAPLES, Fla. – With some critical issues at hand for community pharmacy, leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores are calling on industry members to speak up for the profession by participating NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, its annual grassroots public policy initiative.
Speaking here at the association's Regional Chain Conference, NACDS leaders stressed that elected officials need to hear the collective voice of community pharmacy, given the plethora of developments that could threaten pharmacy patient care as well as the changing role of the community pharmacist.
"If you can envision the possibility of your company being pushed off the edge of a cliff, as a result of policies that aren't right and that jeopardize patient care, then you need to be with us in Washington, D.C., on March 21 and 22," NACDS chairman and H-E-B executive Robert Loeffler said in a statement, referring to NACDS RxIMPACT Day.
"This is the event when pharmacy advocates — people just like you and me — meet with their members of Congress and help advance pro-pharmacy, pro-patient public policy," Loeffler explained. "And we have no shortage of topics to discuss: Medicaid average manufacturer price and federal upper limits, medication therapy management, pharmacy benefit manager issues — in other words, policies that relate to the value and viability of community pharmacy and everything that it means for patient care."
NACDS is more focused than ever before on highlighting the "wonderful things that community pharmacy does every day," president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson stated, as well as helping to enable community pharmacy's role as a "disruptive innovator," term advanced by Harvard Business professor and author Clayton Christensen that also was an inspiration to the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.
Anderson described "disruptive innovation" as an innovation that creates new markets and value networks and noted that pharmacy is furthering innovations that are creating new methods of health care delivery and lowering health care costs.
"If we position community pharmacy effectively as the face of neighborhood health care, this industry will emerge as a disruptive innovator and will create a positive long-term impact on health care delivery and for the good of patients. But we cannot just sit back and let that happen; we have to get out and fight for it," Anderson said at the conference.
One example of the high-stakes environment facing pharmacy patient care in the policy and political arenas, according to Loeffler and Anderson, is NACDS' engagement on pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) issues, notably the association's opposition to the proposed Express Scripts-Medco merger deal and its advocacy for legislation to regulate PBMs.
"Increased rancor on the part of the PBMs is accompanied by a damaging array of PBM practices, all of which you personally know too well," Loeffler told attendees. "Let me throw out just a few and see if they sound familiar to you: lack of transparency; the frequency or should I say infrequency of updating MAC [maximum allowable cost] pricing; more margin compression each year; restricted networks; unreasonable and capricious audit rules; use of our patients' data; blatant conflicts of interest, including converting your patients to mandatory mail order — in short, topics that threaten the sustainability of many in this room and that threaten the access and cost of care to the patients we serve."
Regarding the proposed Express Scripts and Medco merger and the deep concern of NACDS member companies, Loeffler stated, "Well, we've heard what you had to say about it ... and now we're hearing what consumer groups, antitrust watchdogs, federal and state legislators, and others have to say about it."
Anderson concluded by spotlighting the passion for patient care shown daily by community pharmacy." Looking back over the past five years or so, I see an NACDS that better resembles your spirit," he stated, adding "and it is the responsibility and privilege of NACDS to reflect your passion."