PALM BEACH, Fla. – Change – confronting it and creating it – has emerged as a powerful theme of the 2018 National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting.
That fact was on display throughout Business Program remarks yesterday by NACDS chairman of the board Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president, Walgreen Co., and NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson.
Gourlay reviewed “a year of progress for customers and communities” in a “massively changing and challenging world.”
“Change has accelerated from when we spoke last year,” he said. “In healthcare, it has been about restructuring our industry to become more efficient in the marketplace, and in retail it really is about empowering the consumer – to see the choices and products available to them.”
Throughout his year as NACDS chairman, Gourlay has emphasized putting customers first by bringing new approaches to three areas: healthcare affordability and price transparency; fostering convenience, efficiency and experience; and building trust by emphasizing community engagement and corporate social responsibility.
“Redefining convenience has always been at the heart of the pharmacy model,” Gourlay said. “It’s about the marketplace that you create that brings it all together. As a pharmacist, I believe in the commitment to what we do.”
Gourlay announced that NACDS is delivering on the opportunity – described at last year’s NACDS Annual Meeting – to aggregate the story of NACDS chain members’ community engagement and corporate social responsibility initiatives. He launched the NACDS’ 2017 Chain Pharmacy Community Engagement Report.
The report describes NACDS chain members’ community engagement in 2017, including the finding that they contributed an aggregated $630 million and 1.5 million volunteer hours to assist diverse causes last year. Also, the report described the three most highly ranked areas of focus for NACDS members in 2017: access to affordable medicines and vaccines; preventing diabetes and promoting healthy meals; and preventing opioid abuse.
“This is not the end of the discussion. We look forward to continuing this dialogue, and including NACDS associate members, who do so much for their communities and for the world,” Gourlay said.
Gourlay described specifically the concerted efforts of NACDS to serve as part of the solution to the opioid abuse epidemic.
He said, “The NACDS membership has been fantastic. Pharmacy is partnering and leading the way in creating concrete solutions in the moment. These include the new public policies that NACDS is advocating for: policies at the heart of supporting communities and patients.” He described the specific policies for which NACDS is advocating.
In looking to the future of NACDS’ focus on delivering value to chain and associate members, and to consumers, Gourlay observed, “For 85 years, NACDS has created a way to do business for chains and suppliers, so we can bring the very best to Americans,” and he described the commitment of the NACDS Board of Directors to preserving and advancing that commitment.
Noting NACDS’ 85th Anniversary celebration, Anderson said, “Neither the past, nor the future, gives the complete perspective. What matters now is the transformation. We need to evaluate the power of the transformation of NACDS: our past travels, our trajectory, and what they mean for NACDS chain and associate members alike.
“NACDS is about chains and suppliers collaborating, to benefit the consumer, the nation, and the business. That is the infinite goal of NACDS, and doing that through the years requires an intentional, determined, and spirited transformation. But that is not always easy. Associations are the intersection of business, politics and public policy. And those roads are surely not smooth and straight. Today’s it is white knuckle time, as our hands grip the wheel. So, like your business, associations need to adapt. They need to press forward, and evolve. Really, the transformation is constant.”
Anderson described elements of NACDS’ constant transformation, which have kept NACDS ahead of the curves of change.
He reported on the status of NACDS’ Future Value Targeting initiative, which he described as a “simple concept, yet a bold promise” that NACDS is “committed to returning value to chains and suppliers now and in the future – with all of the rapid change around us. It is about moving fast – right now – on top priorities. And it is about looking ahead to what value means tomorrow.”
As part of NACDS Future Value Targeting, NACDS advocates for its Access Agenda, which states: “Pharmacies provide access to better healthcare every day. And we are here to provide access to health policy solutions.”
Anderson said, “The Access Agenda has three parts: tough defense, aggressive offense, and working as partners for stronger and safer communities.” He explained that examples of Access Agenda issues include: direct and indirect remuneration fee reform; preventing unlawful Medicaid reimbursement policies; battling limits on pharmacy choice for military families and veterans; improving state vaccination policies; working for point-of-care testing for flu and strep; continuing to serve as part of the solution on the opioid abuse epidemic, and advancing other public health issues.
Looking forward, Anderson emphasized a course of action for NACDS that involves thought leadership on innovative policy positions; contributing NACDS’ voice to front-end issues; helping to recruit emerging leaders into the industry – and advancing other programs of the Retail Advisory Board; engaging aggressively in forums like the World Health Care Congress, at which NACDS will participate later this month; and continued proactive involvement on the pressing public health issues of the day.
Today’s business program also included remarks by columnist, author, political analyst and former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan.
Jack Bailey, president, U.S. Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, also spoke, and GSK Consumer Healthcare and GlaxoSmithKline supported this yesterday’s business program. Similarly, David Pothast, U.S. chief customer officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., is supporting and will speak at Tuesday morning’s business program.