"Policy victories and innovative vision" celebrated
PALM BEACH, Fla. – Leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) on Sunday addressed a high-energy and robust audience of retailer and supplier members at the 2023 NACDS Annual Meeting, in the Association’s 90th Anniversary year.
Remarks of Brian Nightengale, NACDS chair, and president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, and NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, follow two major federal-level victories in recent days related to post-pandemic pharmacy access, as well as a 2023 First Quarter featuring more than 50 new state laws and actions vital for patients’ access to pharmacy services and for fairer treatment of patients and pharmacies in the pharmaceutical marketplace.
Lisa Paley, president, North America, Haleon, also spoke, and Haleon supported this morning’s Business Program. Similarly, Dan Figus, vice president, U.S. chief customer officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, will speak at Tuesday’s Business Program which is supported by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health.
The following are selected comments from today’s Business Program:
On Pharmacy’s Post-Pandemic Context
Nightengale: “Coming out of an extraordinary public health crisis, the pharmacy industry earned new levels of trust and recognition for our expanded role as healthcare providers. And now that the national emergency declarations related to the pandemic are ending, we’re leveraging what we proved throughout COVID-19 and are shifting focus to what lies ahead. We’re concentrating our efforts on a new vision for retail pharmacy, highlighting our unique position as highly accessible and affordable sites of health and wellness.”
Anderson: “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pharmacies have given more than 300 million COVID-19 shots – and 50 percent of them in under-served areas. According to a study in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association about your impact during the pandemic, pharmacies have saved one million lives; pharmacies have kept eight million people out of the hospital; and pharmacies have prevented $450 billion in healthcare costs. Pharmacies, stores, and suppliers also met needs for health and wellness, food, and comforts that Americans needed.”
On Advocating for Patients’ Access to Pharmacy Services
Nightengale: “Let me put this clearly. We have two big federal level victories in recent days. They extended patients’ access to pharmacy services in a country that pharmacies helped to save and re-open … We earned a major victory just over a week ago when the Biden Administration announced that it soon will take formal action to ensure that patients have continued access to pharmacy-provided services through extension of key aspects of the PREP Act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act) until December 2024. And then we earned another major victory just last Wednesday. The Administration took action on COVID-19 vaccine access for the uninsured – in a way that is workable for pharmacies …
“We will continue to work with individual states to update their laws based on learnings from the pandemic. It is important that states use the time provided by the PREP Act extension to ensure continuity of pharmacy access into the future. Virginia has led the way here and others should follow.
“We also will advocate strongly for the passage in the U.S. Congress of H.R. 1770, the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act. This bill would establish a reimbursement pathway for pharmacists’ services within Medicare. With state laws making more services available to Medicaid beneficiaries, it only makes sense for our seniors on Medicare to be able to benefit from this as well.
“We will continue to emphasize with a united voice that patients expect continued access to the services they received from their trusted retail pharmacy, well beyond the expiration of the PREP Act …
“In just the First Quarter of this year – 22 new pharmacy scope of practice laws have been enacted across 10 states.”
On Fairer Treatment for Patients and Pharmacies
Nightengale: “Pharmacy is one of the only industries that I can think of where, year after year, costs consistently go up while reimbursement goes down. This trend is unsustainable. The race to the bottom is here, and it’s having a devastating effect on pharmacies of all sizes, and the patients they serve …
“We seek a new payment model that fairly compensates pharmacies for the products and services they provide, incentivizes improved health outcomes, and lowers overall healthcare costs. Comprehensive payment reform is important for patients, pharmacies, employers, payers, and for everyone in this room …
“We’ve had more than 100 new state laws enacted over the past two years that address inequities and lack of transparency in the system. And we now have 27 more new laws enacted just in the First Quarter of 2023. We have four states that have made major Medicaid transitions recently that are good for patients – and for pharmacy viability … At the federal level, we have important legislation introduced – and some that soon will be – on which we have consensus with pharmacy allies.”
Anderson: “This issue has reached a critical stage – and we have strong bipartisan interest to fix it. NACDS is committed to our Principles of PBM Reform: to stop forcing patients to pay more for their medications; to stop restricting access to medications prescribed by their doctors; to stop steering patients away from their pharmacies of choice; and to stop threatening pharmacies and pharmacy teams.
“Eight-in-10 Americans find pharmacists credible on how to save money on prescription drugs. Pharmacists top the list. We know that from a survey by polling company Morning Consult, and commissioned by NACDS. We will live up to that trust, and help government deliver change.”
On the “NACDS 2023” Initiative for Health and Wellness
Anderson: “I want to focus on what will prove to be another massive moment in the life of our industry and NACDS. And this is the obvious opportunity, the obvious interest, and the obvious need for this industry to play an even greater role in the health and wellness of the American people. In this, NACDS will lead. And I invite us to lead together through the ‘NACDS 2023’ initiative.
“The ‘NACDS 2023’ initiative is about the future of NACDS and of this industry – retailers and suppliers. We launched it last year to help NACDS advance pharmacy transformation, broader health and wellness solutions throughout the store, and health and wellness solutions by NACDS members in partnership with others in healthcare. Simply put: it’s about the role of NACDS in keeping pharmacy at the core, while advancing the total store, to care for the total person. Think of it as ‘Pharmacy Plus.’ NACDS is leading on the future of our industry, and on the future of our nation. And we are changing NACDS in important ways for the next 90 years. The momentum is growing.”
On the NACDS Retail Advisory Board’s Retailer-Supplier Collaboration
Anderson: “The NACDS Retail Advisory Board (RAB) is organized to serve as a radar for retail, consumer goods, and supply chain issues, and to help innovate the programming of NACDS. Today, many here have benefited from mentoring by ‘RAB’ members. Learning how to really make NACDS and relationships work for you. That’s part of the ‘RAB’ vision. The Retail Advisory Board also has conducted market immersions – in ten vibrant markets as of this year. And it has been on the leading edge of topics like: health and wellness trends; digital; crypto-currency; the metaverse; artificial intelligence; changes in shopper behavior; and much more. The ‘RAB’ keeps us current – and looking forward. Take this year’s NACDS Annual Meeting. Six retailer media networks are here. That means new conversations and business development. What the Retail Advisory Board learns collectively, it helps NACDS apply constructively.”
On NACDS’ 90th Anniversary
Nightengale: “It really is amazing to think that 90-plus years ago people started talking about the need to band together through NACDS so they could accomplish more, to imagine a future for chain pharmacy and to invent an association that represents the face of neighborhood healthcare. And here we are today, together, committed to creating a new era of health and wellness for the American consumer.
“We are reimagining our expanded role, while re-inventing how we do business and serve our communities. These are certainly transformational times, carrying through nine decades of achievement to the present. I am confident that, with Mike Wysong as your new Chairperson, and with your ongoing support, NACDS will continue to lead and be a strong catalyst in the re-invention of our industry for the next 90-plus years.”
Anderson: “I’ll borrow words of Sir Isaac Newton: ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ As we honor the 90th Anniversary of NACDS, let’s recall that those who came before us recognized the moments – small and large – that hold potential for big impact. Their leadership empowers and inspires ours. Today we have before us a huge moment. Call it another NACDS moment. And for the future of this industry and for the health and wellness of the American people – NACDS again will deliver.”
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