PHARMACY

NACDS chairman Loeffler, CEO Anderson urge pharmacy to be ‘disruptive innovator’

BY Antoinette Alexander

NAPLES, Fla. — Leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Monday urged Regional Chain Conference attendees to participate in NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, a key initiative designed to shape the public policy arena. 

“If you can envision the possibility of your company being pushed off the edge of a cliff, as a result of policies that aren’t right and that jeopardize patient care, then you need to be with us in Washington, D.C., on March 21 and 22,” said NACDS chairman Robert Loeffler of H-E-B, referring to NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on those dates.

“This is the event when pharmacy advocates — people just like you and me — meet with their members of Congress and help advance pro-pharmacy, pro-patient public policy,” Loeffler explained. “And we have no shortage of topics to discuss: Medicaid average manufacturer price and federal upper limits, medication therapy management and pharmacy benefit manager issues — in other words, policies that relate to the value and viability of community pharmacy, and everything that it means for patient care.”

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said that NACDS is more focused than ever before on showcasing and empowering the “wonderful things that community pharmacy does every day,” and helping to make possible community pharmacy’s role as a “disruptive innovator” — a term advanced by Harvard Business Professor and author Clayton Christensen, which also was an inspiration to the late Steve Jobs in his work at Apple.

Anderson described “disruptive innovation” as an innovation that creates new markets and value networks. Pharmacy is providing innovations that are creating new methods of healthcare delivery and that are lowering healthcare costs, according to Anderson.

“If we position community pharmacy effectively as the face of neighborhood health care, this industry will emerge as a disruptive innovator and will create a positive long-term impact on healthcare delivery and for the good of patients. But we cannot just sit back and let that happen; we have to get out and fight for it,” Anderson said.

Anderson also noted Christensen’s and Jobs’ emphasis on the importance of focusing on core priorities and products, and on Jobs’ demand that people working for a company have to be in love with the product.  “We at NACDS love that we represent a product — community pharmacy — that is adding so much value to healthcare delivery and to the American people, in terms of savings lives and improving lives."

Loeffler and Anderson highlighted NACDS’ engagement on pharmacy benefit manager issues as an example of the high-stakes environment facing pharmacy patient care in the policy and political realms. They noted NACDS’ work to highlight the potential anti-competitive and anti-consumer ramifications of the proposed Express Scripts and Medco merger, as well as NACDS’ advocacy for legislation to regulate PBMs.

Loeffler said, “Increased rancor on the part of the PBMs is accompanied by a damaging array of PBM practices, all of which you personally know too well. Let me throw out just a few and see if they sound familiar to you: lack of transparency; the frequency, or should I say infrequency, of updating [maximum allowable cost] pricing; more margin compression each year; restricted networks; unreasonable and capricious audit rules; use of our patients’ data; [and] blatant conflicts of interest, including converting your patients to mandatory mail order — in short, topics that threaten the sustainability of many in this room, and that threaten the access and cost of care to the patients we serve.”

Summarizing NACDS’ effort to battle the proposed Express Scripts and Medco merger given the deep concern of NACDS member companies, Loeffler summarized, “Well, we’ve heard what you had to say about it … and now we’re hearing what consumer groups, antitrust watchdogs, federal and state legislators, and others have to say about it.”

Anderson concluded by giving credit to the passion for patient care that is demonstrated every day by community pharmacy and that guides the work of NACDS. He said, “Looking back over the past five years or so, I see an NACDS that better resembles your spirit” and compared NACDS to the persona of Winston Churchill, who said: “It was the nation … dwelling all round the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”

“I propose today that it is all of you in community pharmacy who possess and portray the lion’s heart — and it is the responsibility and privilege of NACDS to reflect your passion, and to sound the roar,” Anderson said.

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PHARMACY

Mylan acquires rights to two Valeant drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — Mylan has completed its acquisition of two skin drugs from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the generic drug maker said Monday.

Mylan announced that it had acquired the regulatory approval applications for generic clindamycin phosphate and benzoyl peroxide gel, a generic version of Valeant’s BenzaClin, and a license to manufacture and market fluorouracil cream in the 5% strength, a version of Valeant’s Efudex.

The first drug, which according to IMS Health had sales of about $205 million in 2011, is used to treat acne. The second drug, which had sales of $79 million, is used to treat basal cell carcinomas and actinic or solar keratoses, a skin condition that can be a precursor to skin cancer.


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PHARMACY

Walgreens prepping cost-savings solution for total health care (not just scripts)

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Walgreens is helping to redefine what it means to be a successful retail pharmacy operator. The proof is in this new direction that Walgreens is taking — approaching employers and payers with a comprehensive, cost-lowering strategy across that company’s entire health spend, not just their prescription spend. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and that’s why joining a veteran like Robyn Peters with Jeff Berkowitz, both of whom have operated extensively in the managed care space, will help Walgreens make what may be considered an unconventional pitch directly to employers and payers.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens setting stage for PBM selling season with 25-year vet at the helm. For the full story, click here.)

The other piece of news that will help bolster Walgreens’ cost-reduction pitch against the entire healthcare spend is its proposed acquisition of BioScrip’s community specialty pharmacies and centralized specialty and mail-service pharmacy businesses, which will help Walgreens reach an additional 500,000 patients with chronic and complex health conditions.

"As our healthcare strategy has been evolving … and the healthcare landscape has gotten more complex, we have been thinking long and hard about fully integrating our approach to the payer community, whether that be employers large and small, PBMs — large, medium and small — the health plans segment, the government segment, the health systems segment," Jeff Berkowitz, Walgreens SVP pharmaceutical development and market access, told Drug Store News. "What this integrated model allows us to do is go to the payer community and not just focus on the 10% or 8% that is the drug spend, but really partner with and focus with them on their entire medical spend and how to lower that," Berkowitz said. "That’s the real opportunity here."

But Walgreens does have a tough row to hoe with respect to not being in the Express Scripts pharmacy network. Walgreens’ January comparable-pharmacy sales were impacted by 10.6% because of the Express Scripts situation — that affirmed for at least one analyst that Walgreens will only retain 15% of the Express Scripts business by year end. And though Walgreens is working hard to retain much more than that — Walgreens noted that a hard marketing push against its Prescription Savings Card since January has netted a record 700,000 new signees — the pharmacy chain adjusted its annual prescriptions-filled projections for fiscal 2012 to be around the low end of its previously announced range of 97% to 99% of prescriptions filled versus fiscal 2011.

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