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Pharmacy leaders gather to discuss reform, change

BY Jim Frederick

Hundreds of chain pharmacy leaders gathered last month with pharmacy, healthcare, government and economics experts to explore solutions to the current healthcare crisis, expand pharmacy’s role in the nation’s health reform debate and look at new innovations in pharmacy practice, patient care and technology.

Drawing those leaders together: the 52nd annual Pharmacy and Technology Conference conducted by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The event kicked off Aug. 9 with addresses from conference chairman Dennis Wiesner, senior director of privacy, pharmacy and government affairs for Texas-based supermarket and pharmacy retailer H-E-B; and NACDS chairman Andy Giancamilli, CEO for Katz Group North America, including Snyders Drug Stores in the United States and Rexall Pharma Plus in Canada.

Capping the first-day session was a speech by former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, who served for many years as a Democratic senator from North Dakota and currently advocates on behalf of overhauling the fractured U.S. healthcare system, expanding insurance coverage to all Americans and increasing the role pharmacy plays in patient care and a more cost-effective health system.

That role, Daschle said, can only become a reality when pharmacists gain increased recognition and reimbursement for their efforts in patient health and wellness, disease management and medication therapy management. And creating a “fair reimbursement” for the provision by pharmacists of MTM and other patient care and wellness services, he added, is essential to creating a more cost-effective health system and controlling health costs now spiraling out of control.

“You are providers of part of the answers to the healthcare crisis,” Daschle told his audience. The pharmacy profession, he added, is “at the table in part because you’re viewed as part of the solution.”

In a talk that cited President John F. Kennedy’s leadership in sending a man to the moon, Giancamilli exhorted chain pharmacy leaders at the event to be relentless in their pursuit of innovation in such areas as the delivery of health-and-wellness services to patients, and the adoption of health information technology and other technologies critical to a more cost-effective health network.

“So, today I ask you: what is your moon, and what are you doing to reach it?” Giancamilli urged listeners. “I ask this question out of a burning desire to see pharmacy achieve its full potential, for the ultimate benefit of the public. And I admit a little self interest as well, because a rising tide indeed lifts all boats.”

In addition, said the NACDS chairman, “there is another reason I want to speak about innovation. It is to deliver a strong message to Washington, D.C., and to the state capitals. The profession and the industry of pharmacy that I know is one that is all about innovation, and that should be empowered to help deliver the accessible, affordable, high-quality, patient-centric care that they are pursuing.”

“In my view, pharmacy, researchers, manufacturers and related industries have been in the improvement business since birth,” Giancamilli added. “And through healthy competition, appropriate collaboration and always a focus on making people’s lives better, this trajectory of improvement has given us transformational reform.”

The opening business session also included the first of a series of tributes to Len DeMino, former NACDS VP pharmacy affairs. DeMino, who remains a consultant with the organization, was honored with the UCB Leadership in Pharmacy Award in recognition of his two decades of service to NACDS, culminating a career in retail pharmacy that included a 33-year record of service to Peoples Drug Stores. UCB Inc., which sponsored the award, made a $10,000 contribution in DeMino’s name to the NACDS Foundation.

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Stop & Shop to offer flu shots to customers

BY Allison Cerra

QUINCY, Mass. For more than twenty years, Stop & Shop has provided seasonal flu shots as part of its Health & Wellness initiative in a continuing effort to best meet the needs of its customersduring the cough and cold season. This year, Stop & Shop will offer seasonal influenza immunizations at a reduced price to Stop & Shop card holders in the pharmacy department beginning Sept. 11 through Nov. 26 or until quantities associated with this program last.

“As part of our continued commitment to provide value to our customers, Stop & Shop is offering seasonal flu shots for $20 when customers use their Stop & Shop card,” said Jim Wonderly, VP pharmacy operations for Stop & Shop. “Unfortunately, many Americans are foregoing medical care because of increased costs, and we want to do our part by offering affordable immunizations during these challenging economic times.”

Seasonal flu shots will be administered at a reduced price in most Stop & Shop stores starting Friday, expanding to all stores in October. Immunizations will be provided by certified and trained Stop & Shop pharmacists and through Stop & Shop’s partnership with Maxim Health Systems and their trained health care professionals. The cost of the seasonal immunization is $30, but customers with a Stop & Shop loyalty card can save an additional $10. Thus, the final cost to Stop & Shop customers, with the Card, is $20.

“Last month, we introduced millions of customers to the new Stop & Shop card along with a commitment to provide them with the best possible value,” said Stop & Shop EVP Jeff Martin. “With the savings Stop & Shop is offering on seasonal flu shots, we are demonstrating that ongoing value commitment as well as a commitment to the health and wellness of ourcustomers.”

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Louisiana seeks to curb methamphetamine abuse with new legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two government officials from Louisiana invited the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for a signing of a new law aimed at curbing methamphetamine abuse.

On Sept. 8, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Fred Mills invited NACDS, law enforcement and other select stakeholders to the Governor’s Mansion for a special signing ceremony for HB890 (Act 314). NACDS was instrumental in the negotiations and eventual passage of the new law which establishes a real-time pseudoephedrine reporting system once federal grants are secured.

The law also provides liability protections to pharmacy, and specifically states that no fees will be collected from pharmacies or pharmacists to operate or transmit the data to state police.

NACDS thanked both Gov. Jindal and Rep. Mills for initiating this important legislation, and for working with pharmacies to make it even better.

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