Members of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores have many reasons to be satisfied as the organization marks its 80th year.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores, NACDS, Steve Anderson, chain pharmacy industry, Jeffrey Woldt, Annual Meeting, Total Store Expo, community pharmacy, Affordable Care Act, CMS, Medicaid

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Inside This Issue - Opinion

Anderson makes NACDS work for members

April 22nd, 2013

Members of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores have many reasons to be satisfied as the organization marks its 80th year.

The pharmacies they operate are an essential component of the nation’s health care system, the value of the services they provide is garnering more recognition among payers and policy makers, and the balance of the store is relied on by millions of Americans as a convenient source of H&BAs, consumables and other front-end merchandise.

Despite the tough economic climate, seemingly relentless downward pressure on prescription drug margins and intense competition, the chain pharmacy industry plays an integral part in meeting — to borrow a phrase from Walgreens — the health and daily living needs of consumers.

The performance of NACDS, which is now holding its Annual Meeting at The Breakers in Palm Beach, is another cause for contentment. Acting on the insight of president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson that associations stand at the nexus of business and public policy, NACDS functions as a forceful advocate for community pharmacy, both in Washington and in the states; works to raise the profile of the profession throughout society; and finds new ways to meet the needs of association members.

When Anderson arrived six years ago, he narrowed the organization’s focus to concentrate on those imperatives and, by adhering to that vision, NACDS has served chain pharmacy remarkably well.

Because of government’s extensive involvement in funding and regulating health care, pharmacy has as much at stake as any industry in its dealings with legislators and other officials. Anderson knows that, and with a keen understanding of how Washington works, backed by reading in history and political science, he has guided NACDS to a series of notable legislative and legal victories.

Among the most impressive were convincing Congress to include several pro-pharmacy provisions in the Affordable Care Act and legal action that stopped the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from implementing changes in the reimbursement formula for prescription drugs paid for by Medicaid that would have had a serious adverse impact on pharmacy operators. The lawsuit saved the industry more than $5 billion before CMS abandoned its initial plan and agreed to go back to the drawing board.

Communicating pharmacy’s message to the broadest possible audience is another tenet of Anderson’s strategy. Engagement with other health care organizations (perhaps most notably the National Community Pharmacists Association), consumer groups and the media has increased significantly on his watch.

To cite just one instance, earlier this year Anderson, writing in response to an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, stated the case for the positive role pharmacy can play as the nation’s health care system evolves: “While community pharmacies are best known for helping patients use medicines safely and stay healthy, innovative services of pharmacies and co-located clinics do even more to improve patient health and quality of life. These services include vaccinations, health screenings, education and more.”

NACDS’ biggest test in terms of enhancing member services still lies ahead. Set to debut in August, Total Store Expo will combine what were previously three conferences for the front end, pharmacy and supply chain.

The challenge for Anderson and his team is to ensure that the synergies envisioned materialize, making the event more than the sum of its parts. It’s a tall order but, based on the association’s recent track record, it’s likely to happen.