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Baxter CEO joins Walgreens Boots Alliance’s board of directors

BY Brian Berk

DEERFIELD, Ill. — José (Joe) E. Almeida, chairman of the board and CEO of Baxter International, has been elected to Walgreens Boots Alliance’s board of directors, effective immediately. Almeida, who joins the board as an independent director, becomes the board’s 11th member.

“We are pleased to welcome Joe to the board of directors as we leverage strategic opportunities and accelerate the development of a fully integrated, global platform providing innovative ways to address health and wellness challenges,” said Jim Skinner, Walgreens’ executive chairman. “His substantial knowledge of the health care industry and expertise in leading complex, highly regulated, global organizations will support Walgreens Boots Alliance in our purpose to help people across the world lead healthier and happier lives.”

Almeida has more than 25 years of experience in health care, including medical devices, consumer health products, surgical instruments and biopharmaceuticals. He has an extensive background in public company governance and has handled a wide range of issues, including risk management, talent development, executive compensation and succession planning.

Almeida has served as chairman and CEO global medical products company Baxter since January 2016. From May 2015 to October 2015 he served as an operating executive with The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm.

Previously, Almeida served as president and CEO of Covidien, a health care products company, from July 2011 through January 2015, when the company was acquired by Medtronic. He also served as the company’s chairman from March 2012 through January 2015 and in several other executive roles with Covidien (formerly Tyco Healthcare) between April 2004 and June 2011.

Almeida is a native of Brazil and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia in São Paulo.

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A constant amid change: The spirit of the NACDS membership

BY Steve Anderson

It is nothing short of obvious that without the membership there would be no NACDS. Yet a related concept that is more intriguing — and hopefully more inspiring — is that NACDS would not be as great as it is without the membership.

Essentially, I am describing the difference between surviving and thriving. It is not NACDS’ style to survive because members show up out of habit. Rather, the culture of NACDS is one of intentional and energetic engagement by chains and suppliers alike. That engagement proves highly effective in equipping NACDS to respond to, and shape, current events for the good of the membership, for the good of our co-collaborators, and for the good of society.

A theme that will emerge from the 2017 NACDS Annual Meeting is the aggressive effort of NACDS to respond to tremendous challenges in the arenas of business, politics and policy. NACDS is thinking, in many ways, like a start-up and a think tank to meet these demands and maintain a proactive footing. As NACDS charges ahead to its 85th anniversary next year, consider the ways that the engagement of diverse NACDS members — chains and associates — are propelling the constant reinvention of NACDS.

  • The future of business relationships, which hold the future of consumer-focused innovation, will play out at every meeting table and session during the NACDS Annual Meeting and NACDS Total Store Expo — just as it did at the NACDS Regional Chain Conference earlier this year. From new insights and new connections to bold new plans based on existing relationships, the progress achieved under the banner of NACDS meetings and conferences is electric.
  • The NACDS Retail Advisory Board, or RAB, which advises the NACDS board of directors on front-end issues, has emerged as a true force multiplier of the strength of NACDS. The RAB is tackling important work focused on retailer-supplier innovation; trends from digital to millennials to multiculturalism; unique features of specific geographic markets throughout the United States; and fostering participants’ success at NACDS meetings and conferences. The dynamism and effectiveness of the RAB have become vital to the NACDS brand.
  • The NACDS board of directors and an array of NACDS committees, councils and task forces are injecting policy and pharmacy-practice knowledge into NACDS’ programming. From advocacy at all branches and levels of government to pilot programs in pharmacy-based point-of-care testing and in specialized medicine, NACDS’ initiatives are fueled by true wisdom from NACDS member-company representatives.
  • With thoughtful responses to carefully crafted surveys, NACDS members are contributing substantive insights about regulatory and compliance issues. This information will shape NACDS’ Pharmacy Compliance Roundtable for chain members that will once again be hosted at NACDS Total Store Expo. It also formed the basis for NACDS’ Regulatory Reform Initiative, which coincides with the nation’s current review of regulations that should be repealed, replaced or reformed. Similarly, member-provided information is aiding NACDS’ work to address various topics related to the new prescription drug supply chain policies.
  • To complement the highly successful NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program, NACDS is creating new and forward-thinking resources that will leverage the strong involvement of member companies. NACDS is packaging its policy issues as the NACDS Access Agenda. Members will be able to use the AccessAgenda.NACDS.org microsite to demonstrate to their elected officials the power and popularity of policy solutions that they can have confidence in supporting.
  • New and additional opportunities to foster collaboration within and beyond NACDS will emerge throughout the year and into 2018. Be on the lookout, and we will keep you informed.  

It is a truth that NACDS would not be as great as it is without the membership, and — in a more personal and compelling statement — NACDS would not be as great as it is without you. It is time, again, to write the future of this great industry and this great nation together. We look forward to engaging in this vital conversation right now at the NACDS Annual Meeting — and beyond.


Steve Anderson is the president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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CVS Pharmacy opens audio and optical centers

BY Brian Berk

NEW YORK — CVS Pharmacy has entered a new arena by adding audio and optical services to its list of in-store offerings. The retailer has opened seven hearing and five optical centers store-within-stores in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area, with plans to expand to 50 locations by the end of 2017, Morgan Diaz, senior director, health services division at CVS Health, told Drug Store News.

“This is really exciting,” Diaz (pictured) told DSN. “And this will be [included] with our new store format as well.”

Diaz added audio and optical services will not carry a large store footprint, with square footage akin to its MinuteClinics. These centers are housed adjacent to pharmacies.

“It really allows us to have a nice health quadrant in the back of the store,” she said. “It’s really nice as part of our commitment to care.”

As for the reasoning behind audio centers, Diaz pointed out that 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, with 30 million of these people under the age of 65. However, only 20% do something to alleviate the problem. “We really wanted to ask those people how can we help and how can we differentiate in the space,” she said. “We learned that they were looking for two things: access and price.”

CVS has audiologists in-store at its audio centers five days a week that conduct a complete hearing loss assessment to understand the patient’s needs and then help them with their needs to regain sound, such as hearing aids, Diaz explained. She added that hearing loss is not simply a condition, but also affects quality of life.

“We’ve seen people who have [hearing] loss often suffer from a quality-of-life decline, which can be both physical and mental,” she said, adding hearing loss can come from a person’s vocation, in addition to more known problems, such as blasting music for long periods of time.

She added that audiology technology has become advanced, with a variety of solutions now performed via Bluetooth. For example, “as you walk into different rooms, we can program the hearing aid so it automatically adjusts to the noise setting to help amplify the sound for you in the room you’re in. And this technology is available at an affordable price point compared to other options out there,” noted Diaz.

Optical option

Zeroing in on optical, approximately three-quarters of Americans have some sort of vision correction need, which presents a huge marketplace, Diaz told DSN. She acknowledged there are many places for people to take care of their eye care needs, so CVS made sure to stand out from the competition.

“We looked at how we can help and how we can differentiate ourselves in this industry,” she said. “We spent a lot of time with patients, and they asked us for a few things. One was access. ‘I really want to see my doctor at the time of day and day of the week I really need them,’ was a big thing we heard. Whether they have something in their eye, they have an emergency or just a routine eye check, they were having trouble seeing an eye doctor, with some waiting as much as 30 days to six months. We really wanted to make it convenient and just let people walk in. We have eye doctor coverage five days a week [at our optical centers].”

Diaz continued CVS has a total eye health solution that’s digital, explaining the eyes are a “gateway to your overall health.” “You can look into someone’s eyes and see the onset of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We build a comprehensive health solution through digital equipment that helps create a more precise prescription at the end.”

Of course, eye wear is another service the optical center provides, with 600 different frames available throughout the store.

Audio and optical centers are one element of CVS’ “next evolution of the customer experience,” the company presented on April 19 in New York City. To read more about the other changes CVS is making throughout the front store, click here.

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