US Pharm. 2017;42(9):1.

At the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Total Store Expo (TSE) in San Diego late last month, some 5,500 retailer and supplier attendees learned how their NACDS engagement can shape their companies’ futures while also helping to address issues affecting local communities, the nation, and even the world.

Of course, exhibitors plied their latest wares in hopes of driving a new distribution channel or bolstering an existing one, but a pervasive theme emerged: enhancing the health of the customer and the nation alike.

NACDS Chairman Alex Gourlay, Co-Chief Operating Officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and President of Walgreen Co., left no doubt as to the meeting’s underlying mission, stating, “This is where we come together to do two things: to build relationships, and most importantly to help Americans….We start with the customer as the focus of the future.”

To put teeth into that mission, Gourlay announced a planned survey to gather examples of chains’ efforts to benefit society and give them the publicity they deserve. “We are going to tell the story of chains more clearly, and we are going to echo the story of our supplier partners.”

NACDS President and Chief Executive Officer Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, described progress on the NACDS Future Value Targeting Initiative, launched at the NACDS Annual Meeting in April. “In the marketplace of ideas, NACDS trades on our ability to develop public policy solutions,” Anderson said. “As part of Future Value Targeting, we position these solutions as the pharmacy ‘Access Agenda.’ It has three parts, defending pharmacy; advancing pharmacy; and serving as a responsible partner on the toughest issues facing our nation.”

Anderson described one such challenge confronting the industry, detailing the organization’s ongoing efforts to serve as a partner for opioid solutions. He related a meeting he had last month on this contentious issue with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, as well as comments on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

The importance of a key customer segment—women—was underscored in an NACDS TSE educational session in San Diego, titled “US Pharmaceutical Trends, Issues, and Outlook” by Doug Long, Vice President of Industry Relations at QuintilesIMS. In his well-attended presentation, Long relayed that two of the top-ten new drug launches in 2017 are specialty medications aimed at diseases that affect women: new drugs for ovarian cancer and breast cancer, each approved in March.

Pharmaceutical chains are well advised to maintain a focus on knowing their customers’ healthcare habits in an increasingly competitive and complex regulatory and clinical landscape, and NACDS clearly has a leg up in this arena.]

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