NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA looked back on his first year as CEO and gave independent community pharmacists a preview of some “coming attractions” in his address Monday morning to the 113th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition.
In a comprehensive, wide-ranging speech, Hoey touched on changes in the marketplace, in Washington and at NCPA of importance to community pharmacists. Here are some excerpts. Look for more of his speech in January’s edition of America’s Pharmacist.
It’s been a busy year for NCPA’s new Advocacy Center communicating the value and concerns of community pharmacists. NCPA’s tag line is that it is the voice of community pharmacy. That’s true, but it is more accurate to say we are the megaphone for community pharmacy. You are the voice. It’s your relationships with patients and policymakers that make possible NCPA’s effectiveness in representing you.
As pharmacists we are translators of proper medication use for our patients. And, as your advocacy organization, NCPA is your translator to policymakers. We communicate to them on the value and concerns of pharmacy small business owners.
Yes, we are in challenging times but independent community pharmacy continues to innovate and be resilient. Does that mean we are guaranteed success? Absolutely not. But does it mean that we will stand up and make sure those with the biggest influence on our business understand clearly the value we provide to the people? You bet.
Communicating the value of what community pharmacists provide to patients and the health care system has never been more important. Our patients know what we do for them. They tell people like Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, and the Gallup Poll.
We have worked with community pharmacies to create Simplify My Meds, a turnkey program you can use to develop an adherence program in your pharmacy. Janet Kusler is a pharmacist from Snohomish, Washington 25 miles north of Seattle. She comes to the NCPA meeting each year with the goal of coming away with at least one idea that she can take back to make her more successful. Two years ago she attended our session on adherence programs. She has gone on to start and enroll 100 patients in her adherence program! In the short time the program has been in place, her pharmacy has become more efficient allowing her to better allocate her time to spend on her business rather than, in her words, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Other pharmacists implementing adherence programs have seen both revenue and prescriptions increase by 10%.
Surescripts is committed to improving the experience that you have when you use its network. I am pleased to announce that Surescripts is again demonstrating this commitment by initiating a new hotline dedicated to independent community pharmacies to assist them in their use of eprescribing. The number is 877-877-3962. Call it when you need e-prescribing help.
This spring we announced the formation of the NCPA Advocacy Center, led by John Coster, to increase the synergy between all of the advocacy functions in the organization. A few weeks later legislation was introduced in the House and Senate that would address the one-sided nature of PBM relationships with community pharmacies. It addresses the burdensome, unnecessary audits, the conflicts of interest, and, requires that PBMs reveal the source of their MACs.
We all woke up to the [Express Scripts-Medco merger] news the morning of July 21. Wall Street immediately welcomed the deal and analysts said it would likely be approved by the Federal Trade Commission. That same morning NCPA weighed in with a statement opposing the merger. Our argument is that if the merger is allowed it would create a mega-PBM that will dominate the market, limit choice for employers, and ultimately harm consumers. Ten weeks later, there is still much speculation about whether the FTC will ultimately approve the deal. NCPA has urged pharmacies to speak out. You have responded with thousands of messages to Congress. Many Members of Congress have heard you and publicly asked the FTC to closely examine or block the transaction. While there is no guarantee of success we are pulling out all stops to prevent this unholy alliance.
A couple of years ago we launched Dispose My Meds —which so far has helped take back 50,000 pounds of unused medications. We also found that patients were returning a disproportionate amount of unused medications from mail order pharmacies. So, we asked the membership to take pictures of what they were seeing and send them to us. Here’s what some of you sent us. As a pharmacist, the waste makes me sick. Just think about how many patients who can’t afford their medications who could have benefitted. As a taxpayer, I am outraged. Send it to your patients. Post it on your Facebook page. Send it to your members of Congress. Tell everyone who will listen that Mandatory Mail Order creates waste which increase costs.
Unfortunately, the abusive business practices of PBMs have increased. Their contracts have grown more one-sided. We’re not looking for any special favors but we are looking to be treated fairly. We are aware of a number of legal cases against PBMs that have originated in states. In most of those cases, NCPA has worked with those local legal teams to provide information to help them with their case. However, we believe there is a need for one central place to enable communication between plaintiffs. To enhance the coordination of pharmacy legal action, NCPA is forming a Pharmacy Legal Resource Center. This new asset will be a central database of sorts for legal representatives of community pharmacy groups to go where they can find legal arguments that have been tried before……some successful and some not.
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks said, “Treat your customers like they own you. Because they do.” This year NCPA unveiled a program called “Full Disclosure” that looks into the minds of customers who share what they want from their pharmacy, how you can better satisfy current customers and how to attract new ones. For our second step, I am pleased to announce that Gabe Trahan will be joining the NCPA team November first. Gabe will be helping pharmacies across the country with their out front operations, store design, and marketing. Gabe has been in pharmacies most of his career and is one of NCPA’s most popular speakers. Gabe is also a translator—he knows the voice of the consumer and translates that into actionable steps to drive business growth for pharmacy owners.
These are challenging economic times but we will persevere just as we have before. We will continue to expand how we demonstrate value and we will evolve as the circumstances around us change. All the while, NCPA is here with you as the megaphone for your voice.