Chain execs get first look-see of NACDS leader

May 7, 2007

NACDS members meet their new association leader, Steven Anderson

According to Anderson, less than two months into his job, the industry was confronted with the "20/20" expose; on drug errors. The coverage "wasn't pretty," he noted, adding that it was unfair and unbalanced. To help promote an accurate perception of pharmacy, he said he has restructured NACDS' PR department into one of communications and marketing and hired a pro to serve as senior VP.

Anderson feels pharmacy has a "great story to tell" and he plans to promote it. For starters, pharmacists have always ranked highly on the annual Gallup poll on integrity, they're also "great corporate citizens," and an integral part of the social fabric, he said. Beyond that, community pharmacy is a powerful force in our national economy: The industry is expected to account for a whopping $716 billion in sales this year, to employ 3.18 million people at a payroll of $68 billion, and to pay $10 billion in federal taxes and $20 billion in state taxes in one year.

In the same vein, Tony Civello, NACDS chairman of the board, said the association will play up R.Ph.s robust role in a new initiative called Project Destiny. A collaboration of NACDS, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the American Pharmacists Association, the project will seek recognition for the value R.Ph.s bring to health care.

At the meeting, results of an Information Resources Inc. survey were released by George Quesnelle, president of consumer health care in North America for GlaxoSmithKline. He reported that out of the 3.4 billion prescriptions filled and 2.2 billion pharmacy trips consumers now make per year, 44% of the trips lead to an average of only 1.6 Rxs filled per visit. These visits don't trigger any additional sales in over-the-counter items and other product categories. If each shopper were to spend an additional $5 on OTCs, community pharmacies would bring in an extra $4.8 billion in sales. Thus there is a great opportunity for chains to turn their beeline shoppers into total store customers.

Reinforcing Quesnelle's remarks, incoming NACDS chairman David Bernauer said that while two-thirds of the sales volume for chain drugstores comes from Rxs, a disproportionate share of the profits come from the front end. To help members optimize their front end, NACDS has just published a white paper on how to improve the effectiveness of new product launches and will soon publish best practices regarding out-of-stocks.

So what kind of an impression did Anderson make? Based on the feedback of meeting attendees, they think that while he probably still has a lot to learn about pharmacy, he has good political skills and extensive association experience. These qualities should put him in good stead for the tough challenges ahead.