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Roberts leaving NCPA after 8 years as CEO, EVP

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va —Independent pharmacy’s toughest champion soon will be unlacing his gloves. Bruce Roberts, who has led the National Community Pharmacists Association with boundless energy and passion for nearly nine years, will step aside June 25. His exit will mark the closing of a remarkable chapter in the inspiring, hard-fought saga of independent drug store retailing.

Roberts will leave a big footprint for whomever succeeds him. If independent pharmacy has been too often a survival-of-the-fittest battleground for owner-operators over the past decade, the industry found a worthy, battle-tested leader when this pharmacy owner agreed to take the NCPA reins in a post-9/11 America.

As NCPA’s EVP and CEO, Roberts brought the venerable pharmacy group into the 21st century—and into the front ranks of the many lobbying groups and political action committees that swarm Capitol Hill. Under his tireless prodding, and propelled by his boundless enthusiasm, NCPA’s members ponied up more than a million dollars to make the organization one of the best-funded and most visible PACs seeking to influence Congress.

Over the past nine years, Roberts and his staff have been a constant presence in healthcare hearings and Capitol Hill staff meetings. Striding purposefully into meetings with the compact build of a well-attired wrestler and the laser-like focus of a pharmacy owner who practices what he preaches, Roberts has proved an articulate and passionate advocate for community pharmacy.

To that end, he also has ushered in a new era of effective collaboration with other pharmacy and healthcare stakeholders, such as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the American Pharmacists Association and the Food Marketing Institute. In the process, community pharmacy has gained enormously in stature and relevance among health policy-makers, providers and managed-care plans and payers, and the profession has won a series of critical legislative and regulatory victories. Roberts also has emerged as an outspoken opponent of the pharmacy benefit management industry—or, more specifically, of the opaque business practices he accuses PBMs of using.

“[Bruce Roberts] has been a true partner as, together, NACDS and NCPA advanced the agenda of community pharmacy,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.

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Schnucks’ O’Brien to serve on Department of Agriculture advisory committee

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS An executive from Schnuck Markets will serve on an advisory committee of the Department of Agriculture, Schnucks said this week.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Schnucks VP produce and floral Mike O’Brien would be one of 25 people appointed to a two-year term on the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. O’Brien is also vice chairman of the Produce Marketing Association.

 

“I am honred to represent Schnuck Markets and the retail produce industry as a member of this committee,” O’Brien said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference for families across the nation.”

The committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the secretary of agriculture on industry issues related to fruits and vegetables.

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Gilead commences phase 3 trial for single-tablet HIV treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences has started a late-stage clinical trial of an investigational 4-in-1 treatment for HIV, the drug maker said.

Gilead announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial of its “Quad” HIV drug, a single-tablet treatment that combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. The study will compare the Quad regimen with the standard of care among adults with HIV-1 who have not taken antiretroviral treatments. The company is also investigating cobicistat as a standalone boosting agent for antiretroviral drugs.

“We are pleased to announce that the Quad phase 3 clinical program is underway,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said. “Efficacy and safety results from the phase 2 study suggest that the Quad may represent an important new option for patients with HIV.”

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