The National Association of Chain Drug
Stores` (NACDS) 41st Annual Pharmacy
& Technology Conference welcomed more than 2,700 attendees and exhibitors, making it the largest of all Pharmacy & Technology (P&T) Conferences. The five-day conference attracted 156 retail companies, comprised of chain drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants who represent over 60,000 retail outlets and $191 billion in annual sales for prescription drugs
, over-the-counter and home health
care products and services.
This year`s Meet the Rx Market program held on Saturday, August 11 was extremely successful, bringing together retailers and suppliers for a series of eight-minute appointments focusing on new products and services.
Beginning Sunday, August 12 and running throughout the conference, more than 20 continuing education sessions were held. Speakers addressed topics covering the most critical issues facing chain pharmacy today, such as Medicare Part B and Part D, Medicaid reform and the annual Pharmacy Law and Regulatory Update.
In addition, attendees heard from an inspirational array of industry leaders with an invaluable amount of knowledge and experience in the field of pharmacy. Speakers included:
-- Bob Dufour, 2007 Conference chairman and director of pharmacy, professional services and government affairs at Wal-Mart Stores
-- Dave Bernauer, chairman of the Board of NACDS and retired chairman and CEO of Walgreens
-- The Honorable William H. Frist, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee and Senate Majority Leader (2003-2007)
-- A panel coordinated by SureScripts about the benefits of e-prescribing
-- Steven C. Anderson, NACDS president and CEO
Anderson`s speech offered a powerful message on the state of the Association, issuing a call to action for all attendees to aggressively advocate on behalf of community pharmacy.
"An association is only as strong as its members and any campaign needs willing foot soldiers. We have to speak with one, consistent voice about the value of pharmacy -- to policymakers, to legislators, to opinion leaders, to educators, to the media and to consumers," Anderson said. "We, in community pharmacy, will never earn the influence we need or the respect we deserve if we don`t do a better job of telling our story. With federal and state governments making nearly half of all healthcare payments in the U.S., and in an industry literally shaped by government rules and regulations, the biggest mistake we can make is to communicate too little."
Awards and grants were presented to individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to advance the community pharmacy industry. One of the most notable awards was a $1 million dollar grant donated by Apotex to the NACDS Foundation to support its student scholarship program.
The exhibit floor was a constant bustle of attendees, retailers and media. Among the 364 exhibiting companies, one could find the latest products and services related to pharmacy and technology. Meetings between exhibitors and retailers were encouraged through easily accessible meeting areas in hopes of future collaboration.
During the closing ceremony held on Tuesday, August 14 the highest honor in pharmacy was bestowed - the Harold W. Pratt Award. This year`s recipient was Charles Burnett, senior vice president of pharmacy for Costco Wholesale. Burnett started his pharmacy career as a staff pharmacist and worked his way up to eventually being hired by Costco to develop a pharmacy division for its wholesale operation. He also started, with the aid of his wife, the Northwest Academy for Exceptional Children, a non-profit organization created to develop and sustain an appropriate educational, residential and lifelong community setting for individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities.
An increase in attendance, an outstanding line up of speakers, hundreds of business meetings and crowded education sessions made this year`s P&T conference one of the most successful to date.