PHARMACY

Editor’s note: A new journey

BY Seth Mendelson

Why here? And Why now?

Two great questions as I begin my journey as the editor in chief of Drug Store News. Why here is an easy one. I am joining one of the premier retail business publications in the land, one that has a long and storied record of closely covering the rapidly changing and pretty complex chain pharmacy industry over the years. DSN has a well-deserved reputation for keeping retailers and suppliers in the know of what is going on now, as well as what may be happening down the line.

It is called staying ahead of the curve, and in the trade publishing industry, few publications have done a better job of that than what Drug Store News has done through its print and cutting-edge digital properties. So I am honored to be here and to join the team.

Why now is a much more difficult question to answer. It is no secret that the retail industry is reeling, hurt by a nasty combination of intense competition, increasing regulations and that 800-pound gorilla in the room that happens to go by the name of Amazon. There has not been a more challenging time for retailers in at least the last 100 years than right now.

But merchants — at least the good ones — are not just going to put up the white flag and go away quietly. As the industry has shown before, necessity is the mother of invention. Amazon and other digital-focused operations are quickly changing the retail landscape, forcing more entrenched and traditional operators to adopt their own unique merchandising strategies to survive in this brutal arena. Retail today is a giant test lab, or at least it should be.

I have no doubt that those that react quickly and effectively to this challenge will survive the onslaught of Amazon et al. They will develop programs and policies that will keep consumers coming through the front door and leaving, with lots of paid merchandise, through the checkstand. Those who do not will end up as part of the growing list of retailers who failed to see the future and the steps needed to get their company there.

Drug stores and other retailers that operate pharmacies are among the best-positioned merchants to fight off the Amazon challenge. Consumers want to directly interact with their pharmacist. They want and need answers to hard questions, and only an educated and readily available healthcare expert can do that. Shoppers also want the products most important to them — including their prescriptions, wellness and beauty items — to be available in a convenient, safe and reasonably priced location. We have a lot to build on.

But it will not be easy. It is going to take a lot of work and a lot of imagination on the parts of the retailers and, yes, their manufacturer partners.

This is a scary time to be a retailer. But, as we go through this transition to the digital age, it also is one of the most exciting times for our industry.

I’m happy to be part of this and super excited to be right in the middle of the action here at Drug Store News.

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PHARMACY

CVS Health to support Anthem’s newly launched IngenioRx PBM

BY David Salazar

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Health benefits company Anthem’s new pharmacy benefits manager IngenioRx will be getting an assist from CVS Health. The companies inked a five-year agreement that will see CVS Health’s Caremark PBM managing such services as claims processing and prescription fulfillment services for IngenioRx.

CVS Health also will leverage its CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic assets to bring its point-of-sale patient messaging and engagement tools to bear on its support of IngenioRx. The company said that by broadening the scope of clinical services offered at the pharmacy, it would drive better health outcomes.

“We believe that this agreement further validates the important role that CVS Health's integrated and innovative pharmacy care model plays in today's health care system and we look forward to working with Anthem and IngenioRx to provide services to help ensure coordinated, holistic care for their PBM members,” CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo said. “At CVS Health, we truly are the front door of health care, with nearly 5 million Americans walking into a CVS Pharmacy every day. Given our presence in the community, our pharmacists and nurse practitioners are able to engage in face-to-face personalized counseling and clinically-effective interventions that will enable us to help improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs for Anthem and its members.”

The agreement will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

“This combination, paired with the clinical expertise, deep provider relationships and focus on customer centricity of Anthem’s affiliated health plans, will create a holistic, integrated approach to managing health and driving better outcomes,” Anthem EVP commercial and specialty division Brian Griffin said “In partnership with CVS, transitioning members seamlessly to our new solution will remain Anthem’s top priority.”

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Q&A: Anda’s Chip Phillips talks company’s 25-year growth

BY DSN STAFF
October marks Anda’s 25th anniversary of providing pharmaceutical distribution throughout the nation. Drug Store News spoke with Anda president Chip Phillips about how the company and industry has changed over a quarter of a century.

DSN: What do you think has been the key contributing factor to Anda’s success?
Chip Phillips: Our service orientation. We focus on the critical role of connecting our customers and suppliers. We never lose sight of patient needs in association with the availability of medication.
 
DSN: What significant changes, if any, did Anda make to the business over the past 25 years?
Phillips: Anda started in 1992 as a generic distributor specializing in new product launches servicing community pharmacies. Over the years, we developed capabilities to service large corporate chain customers. In doing so, we have become a permanent part of the pharmaceutical supply chain infrastructure.
 
DSN: What makes Anda different than the other wholesalers and distributors?
Phillips: Our flexibility and willingness to provide customized programs that are meaningful to our customers and manufacturer partners. Our “Customer Dedicated Inventory” program is a great example of this. 
 
DSN: Can you explain what this program is?  
Phillips: Basically with our “Customer Dedicated Inventory” program Anda serves as an extension of our customer’s distribution centers. We systematically guarantee inventory, so that your product is for your use only.  
 
DSN: How has Anda’s role as a distributor evolved as a result of the challenges that exist throughout the industry today, including the press-ures of pricing, de-clining margins and increased competition? 
Phillips: In some ways, Anda hasn’t changed at all. Anda’s reputation for providing reliable and compliant pharmaceutical distribution services at market competitive pricing is who we are and what makes us proud. Anda always has wanted our customers to know that they can count on us. We get them what they need, when they need it. That hasn’t changed. As a secondary supplier, that is the core of what is most important in the service we provide. In other ways, Anda has evolved into a sophisticated organization like many of our large competitors through the investment in technology, advanced analytical capabilities and people. 
 
DSN: What changes do you see for the industry in the near future?
Phillips: Maintenance of the integrity of the supply chain is of critical importance. Accordingly, the implementation of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act is a high priority. We also anticipate a move toward more drug pricing transparency.
 

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