Let's Step Up and Change


The newly elected chairman of the NACDS board underscored the value of community pharmacy at the organization's recent annual meeting.

Gregory D. Wasson is the newly elected chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) board. He also serves as president and chief executive officer of Walgreen Co. In addressing the membership at their recent annual meeting, as explained in a press release, he described the unsurpassed value of community pharmacy by saying, “today, our product is an outcome—an improved health outcome—that only a face-face encounter with a community pharmacist can accomplish.”

He described community pharmacy’s operating environment in terms of “pushes” and “pulls,” saying that “those who want to commoditize our industry, our profession” and who have “reduced the value of the patient-pharmacist relationship to merely the tactical part of the job—dispensing the pill” are motivating factors for community pharmacy.

He went on to say, “Although it may aggravate us, these entities are merely pushing us to leverage the true value of community pharmacy and to not allow ourselves to become commoditized. I call this the ‘push.’” Wasson also described “the pull” as “what is pulling our industry to step up—that’s our nation’s need for new, innovative solutions to solve our health care crises.”

He made these points as well: “The fact is, this push-pull is creating an enormous opportunity for this industry to step up and play a much, much greater role to be what this country needs, providing affordable and accessible health care services and using the pharmacy profession to its fullest capacity. It’s the right thing to do, and now’s the right time to do it…This isn’t about Walgreens or any of our individual member companies. It’s about the success and long-term sustainability of our profession and industry.”

What I find comforting about Mr. Wasson’s comments is the realization that change is inevitable—so let’s get out front and make the changes that will give our industry long-term viability.

If the largest pharmacy chain can make this type of change, how much easier it will be for the individual pharmacy or the smaller chain? The center of any change strategy is the pharmacist, the most accessible health professional. Have you become more accessible to your patients?

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