NACDS Pharmacy & Tech Conference offers manifesto of pharmacy’s value
SAN DIEGO —If ever there was a time for retail pharmacists to assert their role and ride to the rescue of a broken healthcare system, that time is now.
That, in essence, was the dominant theme of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ 2010 Pharmacy and Technology Conference here. NACDS leaders urged the hundreds of pharmacy retailers, suppliers and guests who attended the 53rd annual pharmacy event to press their case, both locally and nationally, for a larger stake in the healthcare system and fair reimbursement for a steadily growing list of health-and-wellness services by pharmacists.
“We must define the value for pharmacy in a reformed healthcare delivery system,” said NACDS chairman and CVS Caremark president and COO Larry Merlo at the conference’s opening business session Aug. 29. “We’ve identified several areas where pharmacy is in the best position to effectively and positively contribute to all three pillars of that healthcare equation: access, quality and cost. But most important of all, we must ensure that the value of the pharmacy industry, and its pharmacists, [is] recognized by payer reimbursement policies—not just for the products we sell, but for the services we provide.”
The healthcare system, said industry leaders at the four-day event, is in a state of crisis and will demand the kinds of cost-effective, patient-focused solutions that retail pharmacies can provide. Indeed, said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, retail pharmacy is going through a “historic paradigm change” as pharmacists and pharmacy leaders expand their patient care and clinical capabilities, and provide new solutions to a “broken” healthcare system undergoing rapid change. That change, he told attendees, would usher in a “renaissance” in how pharmacy is practiced and how pharmacists collaborate with other healthcare professions. “We need to build a case for a modern and viable reimbursement system” that takes into account pharmacy’s contributions to health and cost-effectiveness, Anderson asserted.
On the show floor
To that end, Anderson announced the launch of a new component of the bipartisan grassroots lobbying campaign, dubbed RxIMPACT Votes! “This is what political professionals refer to as a get-out-the-vote campaign,” he explained. “It encourages NACDS member company staff to register to vote, encourages them to volunteer for political campaigns of their choosing and then inspires them to vote on Election Day.”
The pharmacy gathering, which concluded Aug. 31, provided a packed schedule of information-sharing sessions and educational seminars, and showcased a host of new products and solutions for pharmacy retailers.
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Re-evaluating Chinese currency remains a bad idea
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Herbert Hoover is alive and well — and picking up his prescriptions at the local drug store.
(THE NEWS: Retailers urge Congress to reject Chinese currency legislation. For the full story, click here.)
Of course, he isn’t. But if he were, he might have some advice to offer current members of Congress and occupants of the White House based on his experience with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which attempted to rescue the U.S. economy by imposing tariffs on imported goods, but instead ignited a trade war that many historians blame for deepening the Great Depression.
The legislation to impose tariffs on Chinese imports as a way to force it to revalue the yuan is based on the assumption that China manipulates its currency to make its manufactured goods more competitive in the U.S. market. Thus, the reasoning goes, if China were to revalue the yuan, it would help American manufacturers by making Chinese imports more expensive and American goods more competitive in China, thereby helping to ease the U.S.-China trade deficit, which totaled $226.9 billion last year and has so far reached more than $145 billion this year, according to U.S. Census data.
But it’s not that simple. In 1930, the United States manufactured most of its own consumer goods; but that’s no longer true, and the bulk of consumer goods, from toys to digital cameras, now come from China. Also frequently lost in the melee is the fact that most of the supposedly Chinese goods are not Chinese at all, but rather products with American, Japanese, Korean and European brands that are assembled in China. Unlike in the 1970s and 1980s, when such Japanese companies as Sony were eating the lunch of such American counterparts as General Electric, the “Made in China” label now graces the products of both.
For that reason, if legislators imposed big tariffs on Chinese goods or if China dramatically revalued the yuan, it would simply force retailers to pass the extra costs to consumers. So after picking up his prescriptions, Hoover would find the digital camera he had planned to buy from behind the counter noticeably more expensive. While this would not likely lead to another Great Depression, it would certainly diminish consumers’ purchasing power.
As for the manufacturing jobs, many experts have said they would simply migrate to cheaper countries rather than returning to the United States. This trend already is under way in textiles, as many clothing companies have started moving factories from China to such countries as Bangladesh in response to the increasing costs of manufacturing in China.
Perrigo seeks approval for generic Zegerid OTC, Schering-Plough files suit
ALLEGAN, Mich. Perrigo has filed for regulatory approval of a generic version of an over-the-counter medication for frequent heartburn, prompting a lawsuit from the branded version’s manufacturer.
The company announced Friday that it had filed for approval for omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate in the 20 mg/1,100 mg strength. The medication is a generic version of Zegerid OTC, made by Schering-Plough HealthCare, a subsidiary of Merck.
Schering-Plough filed a lawsuit Monday alleging patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to prevent Perrigo’s commercialization of the product.
Zegerid had sales of around $60 million during the 12-month period ended in the “most recent month,” according to SymphonyIRI Group.
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