Mark Panzer, NACDS chairman of the Board and senior vice president, pharmacy, health and wellness, Albertsons Companies

Palm Beach, Fla. – At the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Annual Meeting today, leaders emphasized NACDS’ “campaign”-style approach to achieving results on relief from direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees; fair pharmacy reimbursement; opioid-abuse prevention; and enhancing pharmacies’ scope of business.

Mark Panzer, NACDS chairman of the Board and senior vice president, pharmacy, health and wellness, Albertsons Companies, and Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, NACDS president and CEO, delivered remarks at the morning Business Program. They described NACDS’ focus on waging creative, proactive and ever-more-sophisticated campaigns on crucial issues.

Panzer declared, “We are battling for our present, because we believe mightily in our future,” and Anderson observed, “NACDS is working on some of the most significant issues of our day.”

Anderson: “NACDS is working on some of the most significant issues of our day.”

Both leaders detailed NACDS’ advocacy for an approach to DIR fee relief put forward by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. It would help to close a loophole that leads to unpredictable and unfair reimbursement for pharmacies, and that increases patients’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

“We are being asked to do more without being adequately compensated for the work and patient care we provide,” Panzer said. “We need to continue to highlight this every chance we get. We need to work towards solutions that enhance patient care and outcomes, while at the same time compensating retail pharmacy at rates that are fair and equitable.”

He added, “Over the past decade-plus, NACDS has been putting more points on the board. But over the past couple of years we all knew that we had to kick it up a notch or two. The stakes always seem to rise.”

Referring to the popular book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins, Panzer said, “When you hear about the campaigns that NACDS is waging, on DIR fee reform, reimbursement, scope of business or practice, and opioid-abuse prevention, that is Good to Great in action.”

Anderson stated, “It’s a tremendous credit to the NACDS Board of Directors that this organization, your Association, is intensely committed to positive change.”

Anderson expounded on NACDS’ “campaigns,” saying, “Here’s the mentality. It’s not enough to work the issues. We need to aggressively wage campaigns – vigorous campaigns that target those things that matter most.”

“The campaigns bring a new approach – a better approach,” he said. “It’s an even more sophisticated way to set the strategy, to ‘white-board’ everything NACDS does, to engage the membership, to lead the team, and to measure the results.”

He also emphasized the ways in which the campaigns are inter-related: “Even if DIR fees were gone as of this moment, we would need to remain vigilant against any new tactics that are just DIR in disguise, threatening pharmacies, and needlessly inflating patients’ costs. We need to keep focused on this fact – relief from DIR fees is one part of the reimbursement issue. It’s a critical part, but it’s one part. That’s where the broader NACDS reimbursement campaign comes in, and the NACDS scope of business campaign. They are tied together.”

Anderson summarized the need for a comprehensive and ongoing approach, noting “In Washington, D.C., you can never say ‘it’s not over until it’s over,’ because it’s never over.”

Summarizing observations from his term as NACDS chairman, Panzer said to NACDS chain and supplier members: “Commit to your company’s success. Commit to the industry’s success. Commit to your success. Commit to the success of the customers and patients we serve together. Definitely commit to NACDS, because NACDS is committed to you.”

Today’s business program also included remarks by presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Colin Mackenzie, region head of the Americas and area general manager, North America, GSK Consumer Healthcare, also spoke, and GSK Consumer Healthcare and GlaxoSmithKline supported this morning’s Business Program. Similarly, David Pothast, US chief customer officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., is supporting and will speak at Tuesday morning’s Business Program.