Opening General Session at NACDS Regional Meeting Addresses State of the Profession


National Association of Chain Drug Stores CEO and president, and 2 other experts discuss the importance of advocacy on the statewide policy level.

Three experts discussed the state of the pharmacy industry and policy initiatives at the opening session at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Regional Meeting 2023 in Orlando, Florida.

Steven Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM, CEO and president of NACDS; Justin Heiser, PharmD, chief operating officer at Thrifty White Pharmacy, and Brian Nightengale, RPh, PhD, president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, focused on reimaging the future of the profession and the challenges pharmacies face.

“I really can’t help to think that there is a better time for us to provide some reflection and provide some anticipation when are going into [NACDS’s] 90th anniversary,” Anderson said during the session, adding that he believes it will be a time of disruption and acceleration of the pharmacy industry.

Before discussing NACDS’ 2023 plan, it is important to reflect on the enhanced role of pharmacy technicians in 2022, which was important for the patient experience, he said.

Heiser discussed how to build clinical services and the challenges faced when beginning to deliver these services to patients.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic created the opportunity for pharmacists to deliver more hands-on care, paving the way for the profession to redefine its role in how we serve patients,” he said. “The question is: As an industry, are we taking full advantage of it?”

Heiser listed 3 challenges his pharmacy chain faced: the need for proper space to perform clinical services; the need to distribute dispensing work among staff members; and pharmacists stepping away from clinical services.

First, pharmacy staff members must transform their spaces into clinical practice sites and reimagine the layout to allow pharmacists to be more accessible to patients, he said.

Thrifty White Pharmacy added “Ask Your Pharmacist” stations and dedicating space for clinical suites, which Heiser said are set up like doctor’s offices.

He also emphasized how helpful central filling has been.

Thrifty White Pharmacy locations are typically in rural areas, and mostly have just 1 pharmacist on duty in each store, making it difficult for pharmacists to step away for clinical services. The chain addressed this challenge by using technology to prioritize urgent prescriptions, so that other pharmacies in the area could help when a pharmacist needed to step away.

Further, technicians played a pivotal role in helping to check medications and fill prescriptions, Heiser said.

Additionally, he outlined the benefits of technology for clinical services and medical billing, including for documentation and what he referred to as “pharmacists AI.”

In addition to the advancements made in 2022, Anderson also highlighted the importance of advocacy in the pharmacy profession.

“We need to lead a true reimagination and reinvention of health and wellness, generally and more broadly,” he said. “We need to stay prepared; we need to keep America moving forward.”

Additionally, Anderson stressed the importance of advocacy in state law making for pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), saying that NACDS is an advocate for legislation to improve PBMs and transparency laws for direct and indirect remuneration fees.


Anderson S, Heiser J, Nightengale B. Opening general session. Presented at: National Association of Chain Drug Stores Regional Meeting 2023. Orlando, FL. January 30, 2023.

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