NACDS chief calls for ‘willing foot soldiers’ in pharmacy’s long campaign for recognition
BOSTON Painting a stark but hopeful picture of the threats that surround community pharmacy, the recently installed chief of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores called on pharmacy leaders here to become aggressive advocates for their industry and to join forces in an all-out push for respect and recognition from policymakers, patients and the larger health care community.
In his first address to attendees of the annual NACDS Pharmacy & Technology Conference, organization president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson called on those affiliated with pharmacy care to become active with the issues and to stay active. Much of the industry’s future, he said, rides on the success of public information and communications efforts, and on grass-roots lobbying for change at the federal and state levels.
“An association is only as strong as its members and any campaign needs willing foot soldiers,” Anderson told conference attendees Aug. 13. “We have to speak with one, consistent voice about the value of pharmacy—to policymakers, to legislators, to opinion leaders, to educators, to the media and to consumers.
“We in community pharmacy will never earn the influence we need or the respect we deserve if we don’t do a better job of telling our story,” added Anderson, who cited his own background as a Capitol Hill lobbying veteran before coming to NACDS. “With federal and state governments making nearly half of all healthcare payments in the U.S., and in an industry literally shaped by government rules and regulations, the biggest mistake we can make is to communicate too little.”
“There’s no way this industry will turn around unless we push for meaningful change,” said Anderson.
Using military analogies that befitted the embattled state of pharmacy retailing in 2007, Anderson invoked the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napolean’s army at Waterloo. Like Wellington, he told NACDS members, “we have been marching toward the sound of gunfire” in recent months.
“Now, we are engaged in pitched battles,” Anderson continued, over threats like declining Medicaid prescription reimbursements and a lack of influence in Washington policymaking debates over the future of health care and the role and value of pharmacy care initiatives.
For that reason, NACDS is changing under its new chief executive officer, who was installed early this year after a long search for a successor to ousted chief executive Craig Fuller. Since assuming his post, Anderson has led an overhaul of the organization to make it more responsive to challenges from policymakers, opinion leaders and others who undermine community pharmacy’s role in health care delivery.
Among the changes: creation of a rapid response system to counter misleading or erroneous information or reports about retail pharmacy, a beefed-up lobbying and public information effort to advocate on behalf of the industry and the pharmacy profession, and the acceleration of bridge-building efforts with other pharmacy and retail organizations.
“We must work closely with others in community pharmacy,” said NACDS’ chief executive. “For too long, this industry did not. And you paid the price time and again when better organized associations and coalitions had better access when it came to legislation, regulations and rule-making in government.”
The aim, he added, is “to fully leverage our numbers to communicate the value of pharmacy,” and to “demonstrate the extent to which misguided policy decisions threaten Americans’ access to pharmacy services.”
Anderson cited successful coalition-building examples. “We have joined forces to create the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action, the Pharmacy Quality Alliance and Project Destiny, a new initiative to develop business models and communications that could guide community pharmacy’s future role in the delivery of health care. But we cannot be content to talk only among ourselves any longer. We cannot draw the line at our usual friends and industry allies.”
Anderson urged pharmacy leaders “to take more risks, not only in building coalitions, but in reaching out to a broad constituency.” Acknowledging that community pharmacy is “going to be on the other side of some powerful constituencies” on many issues of vital concern to NACDS members, he added, “we cannot always compete dollar for dollar or ad for ad. But we can compete on our principles…on the value we bring, and…on the image and the reputation of community pharmacy.”
The process of turning back threatening regulations and policies—and of fully establishing pharmacy’s value in the minds of patients and policymakers—must start in pharmacy schools, where some 50,000 students are taking their first steps toward a career in pharmacy, said Anderson. “Few if any new pharmacists are educated in public policy as it affects the practice of pharmacy, and the critical role reimbursement, regulations and health policy will play in daily life and their professional future,” he told his audience.
“Schools of pharmacy must prepare students to understand health policy and advocate on behalf of pharmacy,” Anderson urged. “NACDS must lead that process, as should all pharmacy associations and professional organizations.”
Anderson urged pharmacy leaders who gathered for the annual event to join in NACDS’ work to shape the debate on policy issues, and to broaden the scattered demonstration projects documenting the work of community pharmacy to enhance health care. The broad mission, he indicated, is a long-term battle against counterproductive policies.
P&G announces Gorman, 70, to step down from board of directors
CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble has announced that Joseph T. Gorman, in accordance with the company’s customary retirement age for directors, has announced his intention to retire effective October 2007 Gorman, who has been a director since 1993, will turn 70 on Oct. 1.
“Joe Gorman has served P&G’s board with distinction for more than 14 years. Among his many contributions, he has served as chair of the Fnance Committee and a member of the Compensation & Leadership Development Committee,” stated A.G. Lafley, P&G’s chairman and chief executive. “We have benefited greatly from his long experience and seasoned counsel. We will miss him, and wish him continued success.”
Gorman is the retired chairman and chief executive of TRW, an automotive, aerospace and information systems company. He currently serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Moxahela Enterprises LLC, a venture capital firm. He also serves as a director of Alcoa Inc., Imperial Chemical Industries plc, Tonsburg Magnesium Group International AB, and Vector Intersect Security Acquisition Corp.
Eli Lilly looking to new blood-thinner to be best seller
By early November, Eli Lilly hopes to release results of a large patient trial of prasugrel, the most important experimental drug in its pipeline. Prasugrel is a blood-thinning agent designed to prevent recurring heart attacks and strokes in people with cardiovascular disease, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.
Plavix, the current leading blood thinner, generated nearly $6 billion in sales last year for its co-marketers, Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Lilly and its Japanese development partner, Daiichi Sankyo Co., hope their drug will steal some market share from Plavix—if it receives regulatory approval.
Lilly hopes to submit prasugrel for Food and Drug Administration approval by the end of this year. If the drug gets timely FDA approval, it could hit the market in 2008. Initially, the approved uses for prasugrel would be narrower than those for Plavix, but Lilly and Daiichi might seek additional approvals later.
One reason that Lilly is betting so much on prasugrel is that its current best seller, the antipsychotic Zyprexa, is set to lose U.S. patent protection in 2011. Zyprexa generated more than one-fourth of Lilly’s total revenue last year, or about $4.4 billion. Lilly needs another big seller on the market before much of Zyprexa’s sales are lost to cheaper, generic competition.
Lilly is trying to downplay prasugrel’s importance in their pipeline. “While it’s a very important compound in late-stage development, it’s not the only product in late-stage development,” chief financial officer Derica Rice told the Journal. He said the company is developing an inhaled form of insulin for diabetics, as well as an injectable form of Zyprexa.
In the meantime, Bristol-Myers Squibb is watching as closely as Lilly at the prasugrel study results. Plavix last year accounted for approximately 18 percent of its revenue, according to the Journal.