Do you remember February 2019? It seems like such a long time ago. Back then, social distancing wasn’t really a thing, contact tracing wasn’t being bandied about and delta variant was not in our lexicon. But then the world changed and, with it, our definition of “normal.”
Retail pharmacy looked different, too. Now as we enter year three of a pandemic that seems to have no end, it’s time to take stock. Our cover story this month does just that. We spoke to a wide variety of industry insiders to get a sense of where retail pharmacy stands, where it’s going and how it must adapt and evolve to get there. Their responses were illuminating.
On a basic level, everyone agrees that retail pharmacy is in a relatively good place. Retailers have upped their e-commerce game, and telehealth is growing. Moreover, presented with an opportunity to step up during the pandemic, the industry has had a huge impact. As a result, retail pharmacy is now accepted as a key part of the public health infrastructure.
But many questions remain: What’s next for the industry? What happens when the pandemic recedes into history? What will happen on the legislative front? and others. Our panel of executives predict various scenarios.
“We need to create the future we want to see,” said Sandra Leal, president of the American Pharmacists Association. “I personally see a bright future for pharmacy because of our evolving roles and our impact on patient care. I hope that one of the silver linings of this very dark time is that everyone had an opportunity to see exactly how pharmacy unequivocally contributed."
Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, believes the changes on the federal and state levels are needed. “Government leadership is sorely needed to ensure pharmacies can continue to be there for Americans in times of need from family emergencies to global pandemics,” he said, adding that “unworkable and unsustainable pharmacy reimbursement models, which jeopardize pharmacies of all sizes and formats, risk the public health assets that came through when the nation needed them most.”
And Mike McBride, vice president of partner relations at Upsher-Smith Laboratories, sums up the future this way: “Pharmacists are figuring out many ways to make money beyond dispensing medications. They’re now focused on how they can make money on dispensing care, which will depend a lot on technology that allows not only connection but also coordination for patients.”
Read more of their insightful comments in the cover story. If you have ideas of your own, drop us a line. We can’t wait to hear what you think.