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NACDS targets Beltway insiders with message on pharmacy’s value

BY DSN STAFF

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. —Federal lawmakers, healthcare policy makers and other powerful decision makers within Congress and the White House are the target of an ambitious and highly coordinated advertising campaign, launching this month, on the benefits of community pharmacy and the critical role of the pharmacist in improving patient care.

Behind the new public relations initiative: the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. NACDS is aiming squarely at the nation’s capitol with a broad-based, multimedia campaign, featuring a series of highly polished and attention-grabbing print ads and other media in local publications, in-transit settings with high commuter visibility, on drive-time radio and online.

The coordinated, “inside the Beltway” outreach program will target Capitol Hill, the White House, the media and opinion leaders in Washington. The effort is part of what organization leaders describe as an increasingly proactive outreach to policy makers.

The ads feature the tagline: “Pharmacies. The face of neighborhood healthcare.” The focus is on services provided by pharmacists, including convenience, accessibility, expertise, prevention of drug interactions and patient counseling.

NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson unveiled the new ad program at the annual Regional Chain Conference held here, calling it “a major campaign to tell our story like never before.”

“We are turning up the volume on this central message: Pharmacies are essential to health care,” Anderson told NACDS members.

In simple and direct terms, the ads hammer home the message that pharmacists provide that most priceless of healthcare commodities: personal attention to patients’ medication therapy and well-being, from a highly qualified and trained healthcare expert. “From parents of a sick baby to seniors with questions about prescription drug interactions, our nearly 120,000 pharmacists are always there, putting their expertise and the latest technology to work for patients,” reads the text in one ad. Chain pharmacies, the message goes on, comprise “America’s most convenient healthcare resource.”

While pharmacists and pharmacies already enjoy a positive image, Anderson said this good-will does not translate consistently into appropriate treatment in healthcare policy. He said pharmacy could be utilized more effectively to address issues of concern, including the estimated $177 billion in annual direct and indirect costs that result from failure to take prescription drugs as prescribed.

“I believe we are even better equipped, and better focused, to tell the true story of this industry, and to turn this testament into results for your businesses, for the patients and consumers you serve and for the good of the nation,” he told regional-chain pharmacy leaders at the conference.

In line with the ad program, Anderson called on members at the event to redouble their lobbying and outreach efforts with local representatives and policy makers, and said the organization has developed a new tool-kit for its members to encourage grassroots advocacy.

“NACDS member advocacy was a key ingredient in the pharmacy victories achieved in 2007,” he told conference-goers last month. “Continuing our grass-roots efforts in 2008 is imperative—we know the critical issues that we face, we have a united voice, so let’s keep speaking. They are listening.”

Anderson cited the role of grassroots advocacy in 2007 in efforts to block pending Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts, acquiring a six-month delay in implementing the requirement that all Medicaid prescriptions be written on tamper-resistant prescription paper and enactment of legislation that will preserve access to retail pharmacies for military members and their families in the TRICARE health program.

“We will need your participation to achieve success on your behalf in Washington,” he said. “As we tell the story of the face of neighborhood health care, you are the face that matters most to your elected officials.”

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Sturken to celebrate his fifth year at Spartan by ringing NASDAQ bell

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores’ chairman and chief executive officer Craig Sturken is slated to ring the NASDAQ opening bell on March 3 in celebration of his fifth anniversary leading Spartan, the company announced Thursday.

 “It is an honor to ring the opening NASDAQ bell in celebration of our fifth successful year since transforming into a consumer-centric organization and refocusing our business on our core distribution and retail operations,” Sturken stated. “We have been in the grocery business for more than 90 years and this is our eighth year as a public company, which is marked by our ability to develop and execute successful business strategies in a highly competitive market.”

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Unilever to reorganize company structure

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONDON Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Sunsilk and Dove, has announced that it is restructuring the company and combining its home and personal care segment and food segment into a single category structure.

Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down in May at the Annual General Meetings after 29 years of service. The roles of president of home and personal care and president of foods will be merged under the leadership of Vindi Banga, currently president of foods.

To reflect the company’s focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will be managed within an enlarged region comprised of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region.

In other moves, Kees van der Graaf will retire in May from the Unilever board and from his role as president of Europe after a 32-year career with Unilever.

Harish Manwani, currently president of Asia/Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will serve as president of Western Europe, having previously served as chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.

“These measures build naturally on the changes of recent years and give us an organizational structure even better placed to advance our growth agenda. At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Kees and Ralph for the significant contribution they have made over long and distinguished years,” stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive.

In addition, James Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed in May for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever board will be comprised of two executive directors and 11 non-executives.

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