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Cardinal Health Industry General Session focuses on legislation, customer profiling

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Health continued with its “Leading Change” theme during the Industry General Session at the Retail Business Conference Friday, July 25, beginning with an expert panel that discussed the most pertinent legislative issues facing independent pharmacy and what pharmacists can do about them. That panel was followed by the awarding of Cardinal Health’s Independent Pharmacy Best Practices Competition, which this year named three winners who identified and capitalized on unique opportunities in their communities. And the Friday morning session was wrapped up with an in-depth, and exclusive, peek into the makeup of today's independent shopper.

Steve Lawrence, Cardinal Health SVP Independent Sales, kicked off the Friday morning event with a panel of three pharmacy legislative experts, including Theresa Tolle, owner of Bay Street Pharmacy in Melbourne, Fla., representing pharmacy operators; Connie Woodburn, Cardinal SVP Government Relations; and Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

The panelists noted that Cardinal Health, with NCPA participation, has a toolkit at LegislativeToolkit.com to help pharmacists identify their local legislators and learn how to engage them. “It really walks you through how to contact your Congressman, how to set up a tour, how to communicate with them, how to find the bills,” Woodburn said. “Between our two organizations, we have a wonderful new toolkit for you to use.”

According to a survey of community pharmacists conducted by NCPA, the preferred networks and any willing provider issue ranked No. 1 as the legislative issue most important to them. “Legislation has been introduced that will allow any willing pharmacy willing to accept the same terms and conditions — we’re not asking for any special treatment, [just a] level playing field —  let our members play,” Hoey said. “That legislation was introduced in May during our legislative conference [and] has 52 co-sponsors so far, which is fantastic.”

Price and transparency was the No. 2 issue ranked by independents as most important to them, Hoey said. “I would venture to say that almost every one of you in this audience has had a year like me where you’ve seen more losses on generics than you’ve ever seen in your entire career,” Tolle said. As many as 16 states have passed MAC legislation in the past year, so there is momentum, Hoey noted. At the federal level, bill No. 4437 was introduced earlier this year to address the issue. “Not only [does] it really look at generic pricing and updating the MACs, but there’s also some really good language around PBMs and audit processes and appeals processes, etc.,” Woodburn said.

The third legislative topic covered by the panel was provider status. “Provider status is the Holy Grail for pharmacists,” Hoey noted. “[It’s] not a new idea, but this time it’s different.” There is a tremendous amount of momentum behind the idea for a number of reasons, Hoey added. Pharmacists have shown they can help lower healthcare costs; there is a provider shortage; and not only are Americans aging, but they’re living longer as well. “This is something that we need to hit at both the state and federal level,” Woodburn added.

But the independent pharmacy community still needs to lobby their local legislative representative, Woodburn urged. “We need your help. There is no one who is more credible and sympathetic than independent pharmacies that are in every district in the Congress; that are small businesses in the hometown taking care of people; and that are many times, if not the sole provider, the first point of access for health care for many of you,” she said.

Following the panel, Shaun Young, Cardinal Health VP Consumer Health, and Naomi Duvall, Director of Consumer Health at Cardinal Health, closed the morning’s session with an overview of the independent customer provided through Nielsen. According to Cardinal Health’s research, 15 million households shop in community pharmacies, averaging seven trips per year and spending $26 per trip. One-fourth (23%) of independent shoppers account for 76% of sales.

Young and Duvall broke down the independent shopper into two categories: Carla, the heavy shopper, and the Carson’s, the household making up the light shopper demographic. Carla is the typical “active Boomer” who visits independents 22 times per year, or about once every other week, and lives on a fixed income. The Carsons, symbolizing the Sandwich Generation, are more affluent and visit independent pharmacy only to fill a prescription for an acute illness, for now. “Keeping Carla happy and loyal will sustain your business, courting and being ready for the Carsons will grow your business,” Young said.  
 

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Rexall names Warren Jeffery COO

BY Antoinette Alexander

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Industry veteran Warren Jeffery has been appointed Rexall’s COO. Jeffery is rejoining the company after retiring in 2011.  

In his new role, Jeffery will lead store operations, merchandising, real estate and acquisitions with the objective of accelerating the company’s growth.

“Rexall’s strategy has never been more compelling, and our customers are responding favorably to our new brand positioning. Warren, a registered pharmacist, brings tremendous retail experience and a proven track record of success in growing retail pharmacy businesses.  Warren’s experience gives me great confidence in his ability to accelerate Rexall’s growth and help the organization navigate through new government reforms that continue to expand community pharmacists’ scope of practice,” said Frank Scorpiniti, CEO of Rexall.
 

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Albany pharmacy dean looking for industry input

BY David Salazar

Albany, N.Y. — The new dean of the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Gregory Dewey, is looking to gain insight from industry experts.

Dewey, who was appointed dean in June, told the Albany Business Review that he would put together a corporate board to get an idea of what skills industry leaders look for from graduates, and what skills they might be missing.

"It's a time of changing roles in the healthcare profession, and we want to be advancing our students to meet some of these changing roles," Dewey said.

Already, pharmaceutical and pharmacy insiders from New York and New Englad have expressed interest in being on the board, including Kinney Drugs and Albany Molecular Research. The first meeting will be in October. 

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