ARLINGTON, Va. — With the 2022 NACDS Total Store Expo set to launch, the Boston Business Journal this morning published an op-ed authored by NACDS President & CEO Steven Anderson.
The opinion piece centers on the pharmacy industry’s mighty and ongoing role in the COVID-19 response; legislative action that must be taken to help sustain Americans’ access to health and wellness solutions beyond the pandemic — including the enactment of the bipartisan Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 7213); and the energetic and highly anticipated return this weekend to the in-person NACDS Total Store Expo in Boston, MA.
You can read the op-ed in its entirety below:
Pharmacy Conference Returns to Boston After Three Years of Fighting Pandemic
BY: Steven Anderson
President & CEO
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
The pharmacy industry’s return this week to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center punctuates tremendous change since August 2019.
When chain pharmacy and supplier personnel last roamed the exhibit hall three years ago, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Total Store Expo participants were shaping a future of anticipated transformation. Americans already were looking to pharmacies for broader healthcare services, and diverse health and wellness offerings. Still, nobody foresaw the accelerated reliance on pharmacies in the drugstore, grocery and mass retail settings amid Covid-19, the global pandemic of a century.
Since that time, the fact that 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy transformed from a data point to a beacon of hope. Amid public fear of Covid-19, pharmacies and pharmacy teams pledged to serve Americans, lights on and doors open.
These faces of neighborhood healthcare have gone on to give 2-in-3 Covid-19 vaccinations. The story is as much about health equity as it is about accessibility. Minorities have received 40% of the Covid-19 vaccinations given in pharmacies. Since the earliest days of this emergency, pharmacies also have contributed mightily to the nation’s testing capacity — with 45 million individuals tested. Increasingly, pharmacies are figuring into the treatment equation with antivirals.
NACDS and pharmacy allies now are focused on sustaining access to health and wellness solutions that individuals have come to expect. This involves advancement of pro-patient and pro-pharmacy policies at the state and federal levels.
Extend pharmacy vaccination policies
Pharmacy services including vaccination, testing, and treatment for Covid-19 and for other illnesses have been made possible by the temporary activation and use of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS, 70% of American adults favor extending these policies, and 68% favor making them permanent. Among adults who received a Covid-19 vaccine booster at a pharmacy, 85% support and extension and 84% support permanence for these policies.
NACDS is urging that the federal government clarify that these policies will remain in place nationally until October 2024. This will provide more time to work for the changes needed in state laws to sustain these policies into the future. We also are calling on Massachusetts to put into place policies that formally enhance the role of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in vaccinations and testing, and the role of pharmacists in initiating treatment. These policies have served Massachusetts residents well during the pandemic, and access to these services should not be rolled back after the pandemic.
We also are calling for enactment at the federal level of the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 7213) – which will set up the necessary billing mechanisms so pharmacists can provide pandemic and other services to Medicare beneficiaries.
NACDS members look forward to returning this week to Boston, a vibrant and inspiring setting for pharmacies and suppliers to collaborate for the future of health and wellness. Building this future will best be accomplished by learning and acting on the lessons of the past three years. That is how we all can move on with strength and confidence.