Keyes, Anderson kick off Annual Meeting
ARLINGTON, Va. – National Association of Chain Drug Stores kicked off its Annual Meeting on Monday by recognizing the industry’s heroic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the challenges we faced as an industry were many, they resulted in a lot of accomplishments, and have given us great momentum for the future,” NACDS chair Rick Keyes said in his opening remarks. , said: From the earliest days of the pandemic, we have overcome barriers and won flexibilities at the federal and state levels that make it possible for pharmacies to staff wisely and safely; conduct operations efficiently; help patients stay on their medications; expand delivery options; and put patient care over paperwork.”
Keyes, who is president and CEO of Meijer Inc., also recognized the critical role pharmacies have played in ensuring equitable deployment of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and in helping to restore the livelihoods of Americans.
“Our pharmacies have the honor of playing a key role in the nation’s recovery, by administering vaccines in our stores and at clinics in the communities we serve that will hopefully help bring the end to this pandemic for our nation,” he said. “The role we’re playing in vaccinations across the country and the speed at which we were able to hit the 100-million milestone and beyond wouldn’t have been possible without retail pharmacy. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and pharmacy’s role in the state programs have been absolutely critical.”
NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson echoed Keyes’ thoughts, focusing especially on pharmacies and pharmacists as “the heroes of 2021” with an enduring commitment to saving lives; serving communities in times of need; and providing a “truly essential” health and wellness destination since the very beginning of the historic crisis.
“In so many ways, from the pandemic to other underlying tensions and tragedies, this past year tested our country. It has tested our nation’s policies and our preparedness. And it has tested our nation’s heart – and its soul. Yet for some sense of continuity and normalcy, for healthcare, and just for a sense of caring, the American people always knew that pharmacies and our whole industry would meet their needs.”
Anderson also noted the profound and innovative ways in which retailers and suppliers have worked together as an industry to ensure patients and consumers have access to the vital medications, health and wellness products, food and consumer goods they need and deserve.
“It has been a year of retailers and suppliers working together in new ways. And it has been a year in which the unprecedented needs of the consumer forged an even sharper focus on those we serve,” he said.
Referring to the NACDS ad encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations– titled “It’s Time” Anderson said, “By realizing that ‘it’s time,’ we will loosen the grip of this pandemic, and we will begin a new day for all Americans.”
During their remarks, both Anderson and Keyes also described the future of the pharmacy industry, through the pandemic and beyond, highlighting the NACDS Board of Directors’ enduring focus on fair and transparent reimbursement; on scope-of-practice and optimizing the pharmacy for patient care; and on ensuring that decision-makers understand the lessons that are to be learned from this pandemic must be acted on – for the advancement of the industry and for the patients it serves.
Anderson concluded his remarks by urging NACDS members to heed American documentary director and author Ken Burns and “do something that will last and be beautiful.”
“That’s what you are doing – and that’s what your team is doing – at this most challenging time.”
Monday’s Business Program also included remarks by former U.S. Food and Drug commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., who led the FDA from 2017 through 2019.
Lisa Paley, general manager, U.S. and Puerto Rico, GSK Consumer Healthcare also spoke, and GSK Consumer Healthcare supported this morning’s Business Program. Similarly, Michael Sneed, executive vice president, global corporate affairs & chief communication officer, Johnson & Johnson, will speak at Tuesday’s Business Program which is supported by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.