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Call for unity at NACDS Regional Chain Conference

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National Association of Chain Drug Stores chairman Andy Giancamilli called for continued industry unity amid economic recovery and health care reform in opening remarks at the NACDS Regional Chain Conference.

Pharmacy retailers of all sizes can unite around a variety of issues, especially the need to reform Medicaid's pharmacy reimbursement model and advancing medication therapy management, Giancamilli noted. "There is more that unites us than divides us," he said.

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Andy Giancamilli, chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, called for continued industry unity amid economic recovery and health care reform in opening remarks at the NACDS Regional Chain Conference here.

"I see a truly diverse and member-driven trade association that derives ever-increasing strength from common purpose," Giancamilli, who also is chief executive officer of Snyders Drug Stores and Katz Group North America, said in his address Monday.  "There is more that unites us than divides us."

Looking back a year ago, Giancamilli recalled the weighty challenges ahead when he began as chairman. "I had just assumed the NACDS chairmanship amid changing political winds … on the doorstep of the health reform debate … and in the wake of the economic collapse," he explained. "With the benefit of hindsight, I can say with confidence that the year shaped up pretty well. Things out there aren’t perfect. But in terms of NACDS and what we have been able to accomplish, I can say with certainty that we’re up to any challenge."

Pharmacy retailers of all sizes can unite around a variety of common issues, particularly the need to reform Medicaid’s average manufacturer price (AMP) pharmacy reimbursement model and advancing medication therapy management (MTM), Giancamilli noted.

"When it comes to an issue like fixing this Medicaid AMP beast, there needs to be a common vision and a common voice if there is a prayer of success," he said. "… If there were no other issue beyond this, the Medicaid AMP issue would be sufficient to require collaboration among chains of all types and sizes.

"But there are other issues," he continued, "and one that comes to mind unites not only chains, but also associates — certainly those on the pharmacy side, but also those in the front end who recognize that a strong pharmacy also is good for the entire enterprise. That issue is helping patients take their medications appropriately, what we call medication adherence."

Giancamilli also declared that "NACDS’ greatest work in political engagement is yet to come." He pointed out that the association launched a grassroots advocacy program — including RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, when on one day in June more than 150 pharmacy advocates from 30 states met with more than 180 congressional offices and with senior staff at the Department of Health and Human Services. "Those who couldn’t be there in person sent 2,000 letters to Congress. Not bad for a day’s work," he added.

The NACDS-PAC, the association’s political fundraising arm, also logged a record year, Giancamilli said. "Of the 145 contributors to NACDS-PAC, 45 were new contributors — that’s more than 30%. That’s growth. That’s the right direction," he noted. 

Before Giancamilli, NACDS Regional Chain Conference committee chairman Ed Littleton, chairman and chief operating officer of Bartell Drug Co., welcomed attendees, who included 20% higher retailer participation versus 2009, and NACDS associate members that comprised a sold-out exhibit portion of the conference, which began over the weekend and runs through Tuesday.

In addition, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson described the association’s cultural transformation to better serve its members in the areas of government advocacy, pro-pharmacy communications, member programs and meetings.

"We have resolved that pharmacy will not just talk about medication adherence but own this issue, and proclaim that lives can be improved and saved, and costs can be reduced, by helping people take the right medications in the right ways," Anderson commented.

Regarding NACDS’ progress in advocacy, Anderson stated, "Our evolution in government affairs involves this simple realization: Getting wins is what matters."

The Regional Chain Conference, geared specifically for small and midsize pharmacy retailers (operating up to 250 chain drug stores), provides a unique setting for retailers, manufacturers and suppliers to network and conduct business, according to NACDS. Various business and education sessions were provided throughout the conference, which focused on pharmacy and front-end issues and trends, including health care reform, operational issues, social media and economic forecasts.

The next Regional Chain Conference is scheduled for February 6 to 9, 2011, in Naples, Fla.


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