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NACDS takes the offensive on many fronts

BY Seth Mendelson

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ two top executives emphasized the association’s commitment to the success of retailer and supplier members amid times of dramatic change during its business program on Sunday morning, the second day of the three-day NACDS Total Store Expo event in Denver.

The officials, NACDS chairman Mark Panzer, and president and CEO Steve Anderson, also delivered a message to Washington decision-makers and opinion leaders that the emerging trade war jeopardizes businesses’ efforts to transform and thrive in ways that benefit employees and consumers.

Panzer, who is senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness of Albertsons, described the value that NACDS members appreciate most. “In short, it’s about business community and intelligence, it’s about effective government advocacy, and it’s about powerful and practical information on policy,” he said.

He also described his personal experience of benefiting from relationships within his company and from collaboration with business partners. He said companies can take this to the next level by achieving “the vision that NACDS Total Store Expo can foster conversations for the entire store: pharmacy and the front-end; health and wellness; technology; distribution and logistics.”

Panzer also drew from his experience in describing NACDS’ value in government advocacy. “I learned something in the early days of my career that reinforces the importance of advocacy,” he said. “What I learned, and what is reinforced for me every day, is just how important pharmacy is to people or patients, and to the communities they serve. Pharmacy is worth fighting for.”

He described successful work throughout 2018 in expanding pharmacists’ immunization authority, fostering medication synchronization and enhancing the ability of pharmacists to furnish medications. He also reported on the status of NACDS’ work with other trade associations to advance direct and indirect remuneration, or DIR, fee reform.

On the topic of opioid abuse prevention, Panzer described progress on NACDS’ policy recommendations — including requiring electronic prescribing of controlled substances to help stop fraud and abuse. “It was not that long ago that NACDS was on the leading edge of urging and collaborating with the Drug Enforcement Administration to allow e-prescribing of controlled substances. Now, it’s not just about allowing it — which took effect in 2010. Now, we’re working to mandate it. We have moved from a question of ‘may’ to a question of ‘mandatory,’” he said.

In addition to echoing Panzer’s focus on DIR fee reform and on expanding pharmacy’s ability to serve patients with newer services, Anderson described NACDS’ approach to leveraging Total Store Expo as a call to decision-makers and opinion leaders in Washington to avert the emerging trade war. “It has already involved tariffs on billions of dollars of goods, and has targeted hundreds of billions of dollars more,” he said.

“The emerging trade war is on the minds of those doing business here at the NACDS Total Store Expo, and on the minds of consumers,” he said. “Diverse products, packaging and equipment already are being affected. There are increased freight costs, too. This matters to the entire supply chain. It affects the products on store shelves; it affects the process of getting those products to the shelves; and it even affects the shelves themselves, given rising steel costs.”

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