FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — To put Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson's speech at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Regional Chain Conference on Monday into perspective, one may consider that pharmacists today are the leading providers of immunizations and vaccinations, whereas five years ago, they weren't involved at all.
Wasson, NACDS' current chairman, focused on the themes of innovation and engagement, citing immunizations and vaccinations as examples that "people are ready for community pharmacy to take on a greater role."
"Consumer demand is pushing us to drive and accelerate the role community pharmacy plays in health care," Wasson said, noting the NACDS' advocacy role and its fostering of collaboration and innovation among members. "And our nation's need for new, innovative solutions to help solve our healthcare crisis is what's pulling our industry to step up."
As part of this, Wasson said, the NACDS should pursue a regulatory change under Medicare Part D to have pharmacists recognized as providers while promoting NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, which takes place March 13 to 14. NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association issued a letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Monday calling for the change, saying it would expand the role of pharmacists and facilitate the services they provide under emerging healthcare models, such as accountable care organizations.
Wasson also promoted the NACDS Total Store Expo, which will take place Aug. 10 to 13 in Las Vegas. "This is the first time we are bringing all aspects of the business together under one umbrella," Wasson said. "I can tell you, at NACDS Week in New York City in December, suppliers were very excited."
During remarks in the morning, conference chairman David Cippel, president of Klingensmith's Drug Stores, said, "NACDS said it would continue to innovate the Regional Chain Conference to ensure it stays on the cutting edge of member service. I don't know about you, but I think this conference program has emerged as one of the strongest yet. I also want to recognize that NACDS has done a wonderful job in ensuring that we — the regional chains — have a home at the very exciting NACDS Total Store Expo."
Cippel said about half the chains at the Regional Chain Conference were already registered for the Total Store Expo, and 80% of exhibit space had already been claimed by suppliers.