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NACDS chair Wysong details vision for pharmacy’s future

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NACDS chair Wysong details vision for pharmacy’s future

Mike Wysong, chief executive officer of CARE Pharmacies receives the NACDS Chair’s gavel from Brian Nightengale, president, Good Neighbor Pharmacy.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — At the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Annual Meeting Business Program on Tuesday, newly elected NACDS Chair Mike Wysong declared that leaders must say thank you and have a plan. He then proceeded to deliver on both of those obligations.

Wysong, chief executive officer of CARE Pharmacies,  said his “thank yous” by welcoming NACDS-member retailers and suppliers, the NACDS Retail Advisory Board, NACDS committees, allied organizations, and all attendees with a “tip of the cap” — recognizing the hard work that has set up the industry and the association for success on behalf of patients and consumers.

“A tip of the cap to all of you, not only for the warm-heartfelt welcome here this morning, but for celebrating 90 years as an association,” Wysong said. “Our founders would be pleased to know that we have remained faithful to the charter they implemented back in 1933: the idea that our industry and patients are better off if we work collaboratively in good faith, and in the service of something larger than our individual companies.”

As for his plan, Wysong described immediate imperatives that must be addressed to make possible also-pressing issues of significance to the nation that will require a concerted and consistent focus.

“We cannot be everything we need to be if we remain everything that we are, but we still must address the key issues right in front of us if we are to be prosperous in the future,” he explained.

He committed to sustaining:

  • NACDS’ focus on maintaining the pharmacy access established during the pandemic;
  • the all-levels and all-branches of government pursuit of comprehensive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reform and direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform; and
  • the recruitment of continued active engagement in NACDS’ industry-leading meetings, conferences, and grassroots advocacy programs.

With further victories and progress in these areas, he committed to continuing to press forward on such focus areas as:

  • Establishing pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy teams as “providers of choice.”
  • Addressing the systemic issues threatening patients’ health and wellness – particularly chronic disease and diet-related disease – through strategies that include the acceleration of health data and technology.

Wysong talked about the creativity that will be needed to advance the agenda outlined in his plan, and said the industry leaders assembled at the NACDS Annual Meeting were up to the task.

“When I look out across this room, I am reminded that our industry is full of artists.”

Artists are problem solvers, he said, who share a common set of values and “stand on the edge of the unknown and bring that which is not yet articulated into being.”

And just as artists have for years pushed the boundaries to explore new thoughts and ideas, , he added, the pharmacy industry has continued to work collaboratively through NACDS to innovate in health and wellness and to better serve the nation.

Wysong alluded to the Association’s future-focused, priority initiative: “NACDS 2023,” a member-driven initiative that is innovating NACDS’ approach to serving retailer and supplier members as they bring a “total store, total person” vision to health and wellness – in the pharmacy and beyond.

He described the unique “opportunity that [the industry] simply cannot afford to miss” to further leverage the value of pharmacy and the power of collaboration with other healthcare providers and stakeholders:

“It is time we focused on addressing the systemic issues threatening our patients’ health and wellness – particularly chronic disease and diet-related illnesses. We must also think about taking advantage of the acceleration and growing maturity of health data and emerging technologies that will aid us in closing the gaps in care and improving patient interoperability.

“We are clearly entering an important time for interdisciplinary care, for food as medicine, for behavioral and mental health, for point of care testing, for screenings, and for immunizations.”

Wysong detailed NACDS’ near-term priority to maintain the pharmacy access that was established during the COVID-19 pandemic, by passing and enacting the bipartisan Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act (H.R. 1770) and by swiftly codifying all of the current PREP Act (Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act) pharmacy-access amendments at the state level. He noted that this progress is needed to make the most of two recent NACDS victories — the extension through December 2024 of much of the pharmacy access provided through the PREP Act, and the resolution of outstanding issues related to COVID-19 care for the uninsured.

Regarding DIR fee reform and PBM reform, he said, “It is important to note that we are focused on true comprehensive reform and not just pieces and parts of it. The current system is harming patients and the pharmacies that serve them with higher drug prices, restrictions on medication access, and a lack of pharmacy choice. It is time we fixed this issue for good.”

These issues were also emphasized during Sunday’s Annual Meeting Business Program.

Wysong delivered his remarks after accepting the NACDS Chair’s gavel from Brian Nightengale, president, Good Neighbor Pharmacy, who completed his term as NACDS Chair.

Wysong concluded his remarks with a powerful message to the NACDS members: “Big things are on the horizon, and nobody is better positioned to meaningfully address these issues than you. We must stay focused, we must stay engaged, and we must stick together.”


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