It is difficult to believe that two weeks have passed since our last update to Chain Drug Review readers on NACDS’ engagement in COVID-19 response.
Much has happened during those two weeks. One very, very important fact remains the same. With their dedication, NACDS member pharmacies and their pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and team members on the front lines remain heroic. We also emphasize the extraordinary work of the supplier community — NACDS’ extremely valued associate members — to meet the needs of customers and chain personnel alike.
NACDS’ role is to support your amazing work on behalf of patients and communities throughout the nation.
In reviewing the past two weeks from NACDS’ perspective, I would like to report on our efforts to change the story of COVID-19, and to tell the story of this industry’s engagement in the response to this public health crisis.
Changing the Story: Testing, Vaccinations
As you may recall, NACDS has been urging federal and state governments alike to remove barriers that hamstring the response of pharmacies and pharmacists to COVID-19. We emphasize that pharmacies are the most accessible health destinations, with a community pharmacy within five miles of 91% of Americans. We emphasize that pharmacists are highly educated experts, graduating with a doctor of pharmacy degree.
Unfortunately, barriers in public policy are preventing a full response for those affected by COVID-19, and for those with other illnesses who may be on the outside looking in at an overwhelmed health care delivery system.
We are urging leaders at the federal and state levels to help pharmacies and pharmacists literally change the story of COVID-19 by empowering pharmacists to ramp up COVID-19 testing, allowing pharmacists to provide the COVID-19 vaccination or other preventive measures when developed and making the changes necessary so pharmacists can help patients stay on their therapies, to name just a few examples. It is important to remember that these steps are critical now, and they are critical for any future COVID waves.
The Trump administration on April 8 came through with a potential game changer related to COVID-19 testing. It issued new federal guidance authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized. The office of the Assistant Secretary of Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, issued the guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. NACDS responded immediately, expressing appreciation to President Trump, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Brett Giroir.
We continue to urge the removal of any further barriers that would restrain pharmacies’ and pharmacists’ ramp-up of COVID-19 testing across the nation, and that would prevent the momentum that NACDS members already have helped to build in this critical aspect of pandemic response.
Telling the Story of Pharmacies and Pharmacists
Since our last report to Chain Drug Review readers, together we have achieved more progress in helping to tell the story of pharmacies’ and pharmacists’ work for the American people and communities.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, NACDS launched a video called “Rise” — named in recognition of the fact that pharmacies and the nation always have risen together to meet America’s greatest challenges. This is the case from the H1N1 flu pandemic to natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, to the current emergency. Pharmacies, pharmacists and team members throughout the store inspire confidence, because they deliver solutions along with other health care professionals, first responders and other heroes.
We quickly went on-air with “Rise” as an ad in the Washington, D.C., market for two weeks, beginning April 2. We then received word from major cable networks that they had classified “Rise” as a national public service announcement — with favorable advertising rates. As a result, on April 13, “Rise” began airing on a national basis.
I hope you will agree, this is a strong ad that captures the industry’s spirit, and that of customers, communities and the nation. Americans share that belief. NACDS commissioned Morning Consult to test the ad, and the results are quite strong:
- 71% of adults have a positive impression of “Rise” — including 40% very positive. Only 4% have a negative impression.
- 73% say it is believable.
- 75% say it is relevant to them.
- They say it is emotionally appealing and hopeful, and they consider it different from other ads that they see.
We are engaging in “earned media” opportunities as well. I am writing this on April 16, and as of today, NACDS has participated in 39 broadcast interviews over the past two weeks that will reach hundreds of television and radio stations nationwide.
The Trump administration’s announcement regarding pharmacist-provided COVID-19 testing has provided an excellent platform to discuss that topic, and to urge action that ultimately will allow pharmacists to vaccinate for COVID. Of paramount importance, we are taking the opportunity in our interviews to recognize NACDS member companies and their teams.
NACDS has been on FOX News Channel and FOX Business. We have engaged with Cox Media Group, which operates 20 television stations; FOX NewsEdge TV, which serves more than 170 newsrooms; and more than 20 local ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and Univision TV stations. We also have engaged with a dozen radio stations, and with two national programs that reach over 300 stations. In print media, we have engaged with The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, and more.
When you think of these initiatives to help tell this important story, a common factor comes to mind. It is the trust, accessibility, reliability and professionalism of the people of pharmacy that make a video like “Rise” so appealing — to the public and to cable network executives alike. Those same qualities create interest among the broadcast and print media in learning more about what pharmacies and pharmacists are doing, and what more they can do if they are fully empowered.
Surely, though much has changed over the past two weeks and though much is sure to change in the weeks to come, consistency will be found in the people of this amazing industry — whom NACDS and Chain Drug Review are honored to serve.
Steve Anderson is president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.