BOSTON — Alleviating the opioid crisis and reforming direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees topped a list of priorities targeted by leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores as the group confronts challenges its members face in meeting the needs of consumers.
“Today’s retail pharmacies provide access to health and wellness products, nutritional supplements, beauty care products and groceries. It’s a full-spectrum offering that is broader than ever before,” NACDS chairman Chris Lane told attendees at the association’s Total Store Expo (TSE) in late August. “It’s this personal relationship between pharmacist and patient that drives us to battle the DIR fees. The threat of these phantom fees to the pharmacist-patient relationship is significant. And the same can be said of our work to help address opioid abuse and addiction.”
Lane, a former pharmacist, is executive vice president of Wakefern Food Corp., the nation’s largest retail-owned cooperative. “As an executive at Wakefern, I see first hand the impact collaboration can have on achieving goals and tackling hard-to-navigate issues,” Lane remarked in an address delivered during the conference’s Business Program.
Steve Anderson, NACDS president and chief executive officer, also used his Business Program address to remind attendees that a goal of TSE is to bring members together “to figure out how to capture consumers’ imaginations [and] solve patients’ problems.”
Anderson introduced a 30-second advertisement that NACDS produced for broadcast TV, cable networks and digital platforms to highlight the impact of DIR fees on drug prices. “Our audience is Congress and the Trump administration,” Anderson remarked. “We’re bringing everything we have to this fight. We have to.”
Now it’s time to “turn up the volume,” Anderson told attendees. “Opioid abuse and addiction likely has touched somebody you know. This issue is very personal, particularly to our pharmacists, who are on the front lines of health care delivery. There is a moment of truth when a patient walks into the pharmacy to fill an opioid prescription. 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 health care delivery today. The public recognizes that pharmacies do a lot in the areas under their control.”
Anderson shared with attendees a 30-second ad that, as part of a larger communications initiative, illuminates pharmacy’s role as a provider of the opioid-abuse solutions. The ad effectively serves “as a tribute to pharmacists and as our pledge to remain part of the solution,” according to Anderson, who noted that NACDS supported federal legislation that was passed last year to establish an electronic prescribing requirement intended to eliminate fraud and abuse.