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Steve Anderson: NACDS aims to put public first


NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson

There are several macro health issues facing America today as the country debates which direction the United States will take in the next four years. Overall, there are significant questions of access and healthcare cost that need to be addressed, even as the nation struggles with a vitriolic campaign pitting democrats against republicans.  

If there’s one theme to come out of the current race for President of the United States, it seems that the nation has forgotten to put the “public” in “public policy,” said Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores during the Business Program Sunday morning at the fourth annual NACDS Total Store Expo. “The public feels alienated; they feel they’re not part of this solution,” he said. “This is one of the more dramatic aspects right now as to where we are in our public life.”

But retail pharmacy has a reputation for putting patients first as it creates and implements patient services, and similarly NACDS has endeavored to put “public” first in its advocacy of public policy. That journey really started 10 years ago, Anderson said, but is in full force today.

Anderson reviewed several ways in which NACDS is working toward placing the “public” back into public policy — for example, the nation’s opioid crisis, which is a complicated issue involving preventing abuse and, at the same time, protecting patient access. NACDS has been an advocate behind addressing this issue, and in recent months President Barack Obama has signed into law two pieces of industry-supported legislation — the Ensuring Patient Access and Drug Enforcement Act and the Addiction and Recovery Act.

Further, NACDS is looking to augment its role in putting the “patient” back into patient care, Anderson said. “We launched a new department at NACDS called ‘Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy,’” he said. That department is currently working on developing point-of-care services in retail pharmacy.  

Martin Otto, chief merchant and CFO at H-E-B, and chairman of the NACDS board of directors, followed Anderson on stage with a message that America has entered a vicious cycle — the greater amount of resources placed against the rising cost of health care limits the amount of resources that can be placed against improving education and social services. And yet, poor education and lower wages are contributing significantly to escalating health costs. “The fact is resources are limited, which says to me we’ve got to think through how do we reallocate the money in a wiser way so we get the outcomes we want,” Otto said. “The good news is that there really are solutions, and we can play a big part in that.”

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