BOSTON — Leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores thanked attendees at the organization’s Total Store Expo for their dedication around such issues as direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform and opiate misuse.
“We have big issues. We have big ideas. So thank you for your role in addressing and advancing them at TSE,” NACDS chairman Chris Lane told attendees at the start of the three-day event here last month.
Lane emphasized that DIR fee relief is the driving focus for the diverse chain membership of NACDS. “We are diverse in our experience, and we are united in our goals. DIR fees — these phantom fees — do not discriminate,” he commented.
Steve Anderson, NACDS president and chief executive officer, also used his welcoming address to remind attendees that a goal of TSE is to unite members “to figure out how to capture consumers’ imaginations [and] solve patients’ problems.”
Anderson introduced a 30-second advertisement that NACDS produced for broadcast TV, cable networks and digital platforms to highlight the impact of DIR fees on drug prices. “Our audience is Congress and the Trump administration,” Anderson commented. “We’re bringing everything we have to this fight. We have to.”
DIR fees are inflating patients’ drug costs and squeezing pharmacies out of business, Anderson said.
Similarly, it’s time to “turn up the volume” in the association’s emphasis of the contribution that pharmacy can make in helping solve the opioid abuse epidemic, Anderson noted.
“Opioid abuse and addiction likely has touched somebody you know. This issue is very personal, particularly to our pharmacists, who are on the front lines of health care delivery. There is a moment of truth when a patient walks into the pharmacy to fill an opioid prescription. The pharmacist makes a professional decision: Did the prescriber write this prescription for a legitimate medical purpose? Or is something else going on? That’s one of the most difficult situations in health care delivery today,” he commented. “The public recognizes that pharmacies do a lot in the areas under their control.”
Anderson shared with attendees a 30-second ad that, as part of a larger communications initiative, illuminates pharmacy’s role as a provider of opioid abuse solutions.
The ad effectively serves “as a tribute to pharmacists and as our pledge to remain part of the solution,” according to Anderson, who noted that NACDS supported federal legislation that was passed last year to establish an electronic prescribing requirement intended to eliminate fraud and abuse.
Effective pharmacy initiatives include compliance programs, drug disposal solutions and patient education. Additionally, NACDS has put forward public policy recommendations around electronic prescribing, drug disposal, prescription drug monitoring, supply limits in acute-pain management and improved health planning.
In a keynote address by former Secretary of State John Kerry, attendees heard an appeal for bipartisan efforts and understanding to advance the cause of helping patients. “We can solve these problems if we choose to,” commented Kerry. He noted that many of humanity’s greatest accomplishments were cooperative endeavors, and he called out the role of pharmacists and other medical experts in efforts paving the way for a new generation of African children to be born AIDS free.
Lane, a former pharmacist, commented that his position as executive vice president of Wakefern Food Corp., the nation’s largest retail-owned cooperative, gives him a firsthand view of “the impact collaboration can have on achieving goals and tackling hard-to-navigate issues.”
Lane emphasized that DIR relief and opioid abuse prevention are issues that “present common bonds among NACDS chain and supplier members.”
He announced the new NACDS Policy Partners Portal, which provides resources that suppliers can use to help lend their voices to solutions on these critical topics.
“A healthy pharmacy profession and industry is essential for the unified work of stores and suppliers to meet the health and wellness needs of consumers,” he commented. “The stakes are so high on these issues — we have to get them right for the good of the American people. This is a pivotal time.”