Changes Are Coming to Chain Pharmacy

April 26, 2018

At the NACDS annual meeting, a push for policies that allow pharmacies to optimize care.

Change is the prevailing theme at the 2018 NACDS Annual Meeting. Alex Gourlay, chairman of the board and co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president of Walgreens, told NACDS attendees that the past year has been one of progress for customers and communities in a changing and challenging world.

“Change has accelerated from when we spoke last year. In healthcare, it has been about restructuring our industry to become more efficient in the marketplace, and in retail it really is about empowering the consumer, to see the choices and products available to them.”

Gourlay said that NACDS has emphasized putting customers first by bringing new approaches to three areas:

  • Healthcare affordability and price transparency
  • Fostering convenience, efficiency, and experience
  • Building trust by emphasizing community engagement and corporate social responsibility.

He announced the release of NACDS’ 2017 Chain Pharmacy Community Engagement Report, which describes the organization’s members’ community engagement in 2017. NACDS has contributed an aggregated $630 million and 1.5 million volunteer hours to assist diverse causes last year, the report states. The three highest areas of focus for members in 2017 are access to affordable medicines and vaccines, preventing diabetes and promoting healthy meals, and preventing opioid abuse.

Related article: The Future of Pharmacy Is Not All Doom and Gloom

Steven C. Anderson, president and CEO of NACDS, told members that the organization needs to evaluate the power of the transformation.“NACDS is about chains and suppliers collaborating to benefit the consumer, the nation, and the business. That is the infinite goal of NACDS, and doing that through the years requires an intentional, determined, and spirited transformation. But that is not always easy.”

Anderson noted that associations are the intersection of business, politics, and public policy. And those roads are not smooth and straight. “It is white knuckle time, as our hands grip the wheel. So, like your business, associations need to adapt. They need to press forward, and evolve. Really, the transformation is constant.

Anderson highlighted NACDS’s Access Agenda, which states: “Pharmacies provideaccess to better healthcare every day. And we are here to provide access to health policy solutions.”

Access Agenda has three parts, he noted: Tough defense, aggressive offense, and working as partners for stronger and safer communities.
Examples of the Access Agenda issues include:

  • Direct and indirect remuneration fee reform
  • Preventing unlawful Medicaid reimbursement policies
  • Battling limits on pharmacy choice for military families and veterans
  • Improving state vaccination policies
  • Working for point-of-care testing for flu and strep
  • Continuing to serve as part of the solution on the opioid abuse epidemic
  • Advancing other public health issues

Looking to the future Anderson stressed a strategy for NACDS that involves thought leadership on innovative policy positions; contributing NACDS’ voice to front-end issues; helping to recruit emerging leaders into the industry, advancing programs of the Retail Advisory Board; engaging aggressively in forums like the World Health Care Congress, and continued proactive involvement on key public health issues of the day.