SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A “new normal” has been established at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores with a higher standard of value for chain and associate members.
The standard was elevated in recent years with significant public policy victories, success in communicating the story of pharmacy and innovations in member programs and services, including meetings, new chairman Bob Loeffler said at the NACDS Annual Meeting.
Henceforth, the NACDS staff and board of directors will seek to create “the next level of success” in the areas of business community, government affairs and communications, stated Loeffler, who is chief administrative officer of H.E. Butt Grocery Co.
Noting the challenges that lie ahead for pharmacy, he stressed the need for “active diligence” in continually engaging with federal and state lawmakers, recognizing that the task of educating policy makers on the value of pharmacy will never be complete.
He discussed the challenge of communicating to the “budget chiefs” in Washington how pharmacy-based strategies to improve medication adherence can translate into health care savings, as well as industry’s need to continue defending against additional pharmacy reimbursement cuts.
To assist in overcoming these challenges, Loeffler urged all attendees — suppliers and retailers — to take advantage of the NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program to deliver their message to elected officials. “For those of you who are in the business of researching and developing medications, and helping to improve and save lives, know that NACDS stands with you in creating a public policy environment … and a business climate … that helps patients stay on their therapies and achieve better outcomes,” he said.
“And for those of you in the business of selling consumer goods, I believe the advancement of legislation and policy that strengthen pharmacy, such as the medication adherence platform, contributes in a big way to having healthy retailers.”
Loeffler highlighted the work of the NACDS Retail Advisory Board as an example of how the association is engaging with retailers and suppliers to help foster business opportunities for NACDS members.
He stressed that if pharmacy is to see continued recognition for its value, it needs to seize the opportunity. “Nobody is going to just give it to us and, in fact, it could be taken away,” he said. “NACDS needs all of us to engage, and remain engaged, in this effort — whether you are a chain or a supplier of consumer goods, medications or services.”
President and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said NACDS meetings and its government affairs and communications initiatives present ideal opportunities for diverse yet related businesses to plan for volatile and challenging times.
Today’s operating environment is characterized by uncertainties related to federal and state health care policy and budgets, the electorate’s dissatisfaction, the financial ripple effects of globalization, and geopolitical unrest, he noted.
“The world is too small not to plan for,” Anderson said. “Frankly, that is a big part of why we are here at this meeting and why we attend other NACDS meetings. “This is an ideal forum to discuss the effects of macro and micro factors on business relationships and strategies — and our proactive responses through government affairs and industrywide communications.”
He illustrated the power of a unified industry voice by describing one of the teachings of Greek philosopher Zeno. “He asked whether a single millet seed makes a noise when it falls. The answer is obviously no. But Zeno said if you take a bushel of millet seeds and drop them from the top of a building, it obviously makes a much louder noise. In fact, a bushel of millet seeds falling to the ground has the power to knock over stationary obstacles.
“I think Zeno was describing in 400 B.C. the principle of why you are a member of NACDS. Do you have enough power and can you make enough noise as a single company? Or do you have more power [and] do you make more noise [and] can you knock over stationary obstacles by working together with like companies from the same industry in a trade association like NACDS?”
He cited the success of the joint lawsuit filed by NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association to overturn the Medicaid average manufacturer price pharmacy reimbursement model, thereby helping to preserve pharmacy’s viability and patients’ access to pharmacy care.
He also noted the pro-pharmacy provisions of the health care reform law, as well as the platform that the debate over the law presented for educating lawmakers about the ability of pharmacies to help improve lives and reduce costs by fostering medication adherence.
“To sustain this vital message, we now have bills [S. 274 and H.R. 891] introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate that would continue the momentum of medication therapy management,” Anderson said.
He cited NACDS’ advertising campaign in Washington and success in earning media coverage on the value of pharmacy as examples of NACDS’ continued commitment to create and raise awareness of pharmacy’s role in health care delivery.
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