The National Association of Chain Drug Stores' leadership urged members attending the NACDS Annual Meeting here to keep pressing forward with their efforts to advance community pharmacy, in both the patient and policy realms.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores NACDS, NACDS Annual Meeting, Greg Wasson, Steve Anderson, community pharmacy, NACDS Annual Meeting Business Program, health care reform, health care costs, medication therapy management, MTM, pharmacy services, NACDS RxImpact, NACDS Total Store Expo, pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement

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NACDS leaders rally community pharmacy

April 22nd, 2013

PALM BEACH, Fla. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores' leadership urged members attending the NACDS Annual Meeting here to keep pressing forward with their efforts to advance community pharmacy, in both the patient and policy realms.

During for the first NACDS Annual Meeting Business Program on Sunday, NACDS chairman Greg Wasson called for members to maintain their high level of participation, innovation and communication via NACDS — which is celebrating its 80th year — to continue growing pharmacy's role in the nation's health care system.

"Over the past year, I've consistently talked about the push-pull environment we're all operating in," noted Wasson, who is president and chief executive officer of Walgreen Co. and is finishing his one-year term as NACDS chairman. "The simple fact is, our nation needs us to step up and advance the role of community pharmacy in health care and provide innovative, affordable, high-quality and convenient solutions to help meet our nation's health care needs."

He cited the 2012 Congressional Budget Office announcement that a 1% rise in prescription drug utilization would pare overall health care costs by $1.7 billion. He also pointed to a study released earlier this year by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finding that Medicare beneficiaries with chronic pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure who received medication therapy management (MTM) services experienced improvement in their drug regimen quality and cost savings.

"Here are two great examples of how we're delivering on our commitment, from two government entities that have an important say in public policy related to healthcare delivery," Wasson stated.

NACDS opinion research also has shown that consumers value the health care provided by community pharmacies, according to Wasson. "Among the reasons the respondents gave for their favorable opinion of pharmacies was that pharmacies are innovating and expanding their services by emphasizing personal relationships with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive services," he explained.

"We must continue to enable our pharmacists to play an even greater role in health care; we must continue to focus on producing and measuring real outcomes in order to substantiate the value of our industry; and we must continue to educate policymakers," Wasson added.

He also urged widespread use of the community pharmacy "elevator speech" that NACDS has developed to convey the industry's value as the face of neighborhood health care. The key four points include:

• Pharmacies help patients use medicines safely and stay healthy.
• Innovative pharmacy services do even more to improve patient health and quality of life.
• Widely trusted and accessible, pharmacists are extremely valued by those in greatest need.
• Pharmacy services improve health care affordability.

Wasson, too, encouraged members to keep up their engagement in the NACDS RxImpact grassroots advocacy program, which includes pharmacy tours for members of Congress, the NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill lobbying drive, and the key contact program for fostering dialogue with elected officials. He also highlighted the importance of the inaugural NACDS Total Store Expo, which will be held August 10 to 13 in Las Vegas.

"We're already more than 90% of the way to selling out our exhibit hall space," Wasson reported.

Following Wasson in the Business Program on Sunday, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson stressed to members that confronting inconsistent government policies requires continued determination.

With NACDS marking its 80th year, Anderson read from a 1938 progress report delivered by then-NACDS secretary F.J. Griffiths of Pennsylvania Drug Co., reflecting on the first five years of the association.

"Until the last few years, no concerted effort of any kind had been made by the chains to find its place in the industry and function as it should when questions affecting the industry arose — I mean not only legislation, but questions of relationship between manufacturers and distributors," Griffiths reported to the NACDS Executive Committee in 1938. "While we were slumbering peacefully, the other branches of the industry were actively supporting organizations, who were looking after the interests of their members."

Anderson pointed to NACDS' approach to today's health care reform as an example of living up to the NACDS founders' vision for an proactive, forward-thinking association.

"We didn't engage in the political gamesmanship that surrounded the legislation, and we didn't take a position on it as a whole," Anderson explained. "But we improved the law governing pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement, and advanced medication therapy management in Medicare, among other programs. Much of the importance of the health care reform debate lies in the opportunity it presented to educate those in power about what pharmacy and suppliers do together."

He reiterated Wasson's points about the huge potential health care benefits for the nation presented by pharmacists' ability to improve patient compliance with their prescriptions.

However, some counterproductive government policies threaten the advancement of innovation and affordability in patient care, according to Anderson. He noted that the Obama administration’s 2014 budget proposal, released April 11, includes cuts to pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement that would undermine the current process of implementing the related provisions of the health care reform law.

"We are pointing out that any changes that jeopardize patient access to needed medications will increase and not decrease costs. We are telling them that government agencies have said as much, and why we need consistent policies for patient care," Anderson stated.

"I have talked before about our all-branches and all-levels of government approach to advocacy," he added. "Now we must go deeper, beyond reaching every branch of government to reaching and convincing every bastion of government — each entrenched corner of the Congress, governmental departments and agencies that holds to its own beliefs, despite the existence of a better way."