ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Craig Fuller resigned last week as president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, NACDS told SN.
Industry insiders said the resignation came in response to mounting pressure from the board of directors after the difficult rollout of Medicare Part D and the cuts to Medicaid passed along with the Budget Reconciliation Act.
"It seems to me that the issue was lack of representation and that the association will move forward by trying to get more of a 'bulldog' to represent community pharmacy in the area of new legislation," a pharmacy executive with a supermarket chain told SN.
"The board has accepted Craig Fuller's resignation and NACDS will make announcements about our next steps in the coming days," said Kelley Gannon, vice president of communications.
Fuller, who worked under Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush, decided in 2003 not to outwardly oppose Medicare reform legislation, and in doing so did not receive enough in return to continue having full-fledged industry support, one retailer told SN.
"Right or wrong, Fuller is being held accountable for the failure of the association to effectively manage the legislative process," an industry observer said.
For the past year, Fuller led NACDS in partnership with other associations such as the National Association of Community Pharmacists in a vigorous yet unsuccessful effort to prevent Medicaid cuts.
Then in February's official release of his proposed 2007 budget, President Bush commented about the Medicaid cuts, "It's not immoral to make sure that prescription drug pharmacists don't overcharge the system." Fuller and other pharmacy representatives answered swiftly and strongly.
Yet industry observers speculated that pharmacy has lost too many battles in the past year and the NACDS board had to respond.
"Craig Fuller did a wonderful job taking us to the next level of interacting with legislature, but as so often happens, as times become tougher for all of health care, it is time for a new person to take us to the next level after that," said John Fegan, senior vice president of pharmacy, Ahold USA, Braintree, Mass.