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NACDS leaders convey passion, purpose at TSE

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Industry collaboration among themes at Business Program

NACDS leaders convey passion, purpose at TSE

BOSTON – “We have big issues. We have big ideas. So thank you for your role in addressing and advancing them at TSE.” With those words, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) chairman of the board Chris Lane, executive vice president of Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite, summarized the NACDS Total Store Expo’s role in helping retailers and suppliers meet the needs of American patients and consumers.

Speaking at Sunday’s Business Program during the conference, Lane and NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven  Anderson, articulated NACDS’ commitment to important priorities. These include presenting an ideal forum for retailer-supplier collaboration; NACDS’ commitment to fighting the phantom fees known as pharmacy “direct and indirect remuneration (DIR)” fees that are harming patients and pharmacies; and NACDS’ commitment to advancing pharmacy’s role as part of the opioid-abuse solution. In addition, former Secretary of State John Kerry addressed attendees during the Business Program.

Just as Lane emphasized the “big issues” and “big ideas” on the table at the NACDS TSE, Anderson noted the importance of this forum for conducting business. “NACDS meetings bring together the right people. You can figure out how to capture consumers’ imaginations, solve patients’ problems, and succeed. I want to thank you for looking to the NACDS Total Store Expo for that purpose,” he said.

Lane and Anderson described the state of, and the energy behind, NACDS’ work on DIR fee relief and on opioid-abuse prevention. Together with pharmacy reimbursement issues and expanding the industry’s scope of business, these issues comprise the four campaigns on which NACDS is laser-focused.

“For those not familiar with DIR, let’s put it this way. DIR fees are phantom fees. They result from a loophole in a regulation. They are inflating patients’ drug costs. And they are squeezing pharmacies out of business,” Anderson said. “We are bringing everything we have to this fight. We have to.”

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 said.

Regarding opioid-abuse prevention, Anderson described the comprehensive initiatives that pharmacies have deployed to help prevent opioid abuse, and he described NACDS’ public policy recommendations based on pharmacists’ experiences on the front lines of care.

“There is a moment of truth when a patient walks into the pharmacy to fill an opioid prescription,” Anderson explained. “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 healthcare delivery today. The public recognizes that pharmacies do a lot in the areas under their control.”

Lane emphasized that the DIR relief and opioid-abuse-prevention issues “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. 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,” Lane said.

Speaking directly to suppliers, Lane said: “As employers, I know you care about healthcare costs. These phantom fees are inflating these costs. I know you care about your employees and their families. Well, the opioid-abuse epidemic touches us all.”

In another announcement, Anderson shared with attendees a 30-second ad that – as part of a larger communications initiative – describes pharmacy’s role as part of the opioid-abuse solution. Anderson said it “serves as a tribute to pharmacists and as our pledge to remain part of the solution.”

Anderson also showed the ad that NACDS has been using to capture the essence of the “dire” nature of DIR fees. Anderson noted that NACDS members’ grassroots engagement has been extremely important in communicating with members of Congress on DIR fee relief and on opioid-abuse prevention alike. Anderson said that when it comes to advocating for issues of importance to patients and consumers and the pharmacies that serve them, “white coats work.”


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