Highlights of NACDS press conference
The delay in electing a President and the historic tie vote in the Senate are expected to keep federal actions at a lower level this year. This lack of federal activity should put more pressure on the states to step up to the plate. For this reason, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores plans to be more active on the state level and strengthen its state government affairs group this year. So reported Craig Fuller, NACDS president and CEO, at a press conference held in New York City last month to address the association's plans for 2001.
Elaborating on his remarks, Fuller, who served as chief of staff for Vice President George Bush, said that in former administrations, the Presidential transition got under way the day after the election. With this election though, the transition will probably extend well into this year. Because critical issues, such as comprehensive Medicare reform, which George W. said he would tackle, can't be addressed until key federal staffers are in place, Fuller expects that the new Administration and Congress will be able to achieve at most one or two initiatives this year.
One issue NACDS will be supporting is improved patient safety. Fuller announced that NACDS has joined the National Quality Forum, a public-private partnership designed to enhance care through quality measurement and reporting. NACDS is also working with the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America to further the safe and effective use of medications. Finally, NACDS is cooperating with the American Pharmaceutical Association and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices on developing a self-assessment tool community pharmacists can use to evaluate their practices for the potential for med errors. ISMP had developed a similar tool for hospital pharmacies last year.
While NACDS is all for increased safety, it is not in favor of mandatory reporting of drug errors. Fuller told the reporters present that the association doesn't care for government mandates to do something he thinks the industry is already performing effectively, which is to serve as a safety net for patients. Backing him up is Eleanor Vogt, a consultant to NACDS. She said that even the authors of the recent Institute of Medicine report on med errors feel that voluntary reportingat least, to some extentis the way to go.
Here are some other highlights of the press conference:
Regarding the recently passed federal law to allow the reimportation of drugs, Fuller has doubts that it will ever become reality. Manufacturers are not going to send a surfeit of products across the border just so they could be reimported at a lower price, he explained. The bill was a "last-minute effort [by Congress] to pass something. I don't think we'll see any regulations to implement that law any time soon, if at all," he said flatly.
NACDS is going live with its B2B portal, ChainDrugStore.net (Drug Topics, Sept. 18), as of January. Fuller said that one advantage of this on-line site is that it will allow the smaller manufacturers to provide promotional materials to chains that they might not otherwise be able to.
Just as a sales tax is required of brick-and-mortar retailers, it should be imposed on the dot-commers as well, contended Alan Levin, chairman of NACDS and Happy Harry's. Unfortunately, at present, there is a five-year reprieve on the tax for cyber-retailers, so there is no even playing field, he lamented. That said, NACDS does not want to see new regulations passed to deal with renegade Internet companies. There is considerable authority on the books already, Fuller explained, and the association does not want to create any further burdens for its members to meet.
NACDS is working with other pharmacy associations to develop a methodology to compensate community pharmacies that works more effectively than the present system, which relies on average wholesale price (AWP).
Chain, supermarket, and mass-merchandising stores enjoyed strong retail sales for the first nine months of 2000, Levin reported. Chains chalked up a sales increase of 9.3%, supermarkets 6%, and mass-merchandisers 10%, relative to a gross national product growth of only 4.2%, he said. In terms of product categories, chains' Rx sales jumped 18%, while OTCs rose 3.2% and HBCs 4.5% during the same period, he added.
Continuing in the positive vein, Levin said NACDS is at its "strongest level to date in our history." The association has 169 domestic members, 125 international members representing 30 countries, and 1,400 suppliers as associate members. "If we're not already the No. 1 trade association in America, we're very close," he maintained.
Judy Chi. Chain group to step up advocacy activities in states this year.