PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With health care reform just a fading memory of a past year, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores focused on the resiliency of retail pharmacy in a transition period.
"The leadership of our industry has a resilient capacity to anticipate change and adapt to consumer demand," Ron Ziegler, president and chief executive officer of NACDS, told nearly 2,400 executives gathered for the group's 16th annual meeting held here this spring.
Executives looked back on the differences a year can make on important industry initiatives.
The Clinton administration's health care reform bill, vigorously supported by the association last year, was no longer of imminent concern under a new Republican-controlled Congress.
Although the health care issue reached a stalemate, Ziegler noted that health care advocates still exist today.
Another NACDS initiative, the formation of the Pharmacy Direct Network, Alexandria, Va., a benefit management company open to all retail formats, was struggling to survive during the time of this year's meeting. Announced with much fanfare last year, there was no mention of the company at this meeting.
Last month PDN was acquired by American Stores Co., Salt Lake City. PDN, with some 32,000 independent and chain-operated community pharmacies, will continue to offer pharmacy benefit management services with the support of RxAmerica, an American Stores subsidiary that is also a benefit management company.
PDN was formed with a commitment not to "lock out" any community pharmacy from providing service under contracts negotiated by PDN. This commitment will continue under American Stores, which also will expand the flexibility of provider pharmacies by allowing them to "opt-out" of service contracts, according to a press release issued by PDN.
Philip Schneider, a spokesman for PDN, told SN that the emergence of drug-owned, vertically integrated pharmacy benefit management companies such as Merck/Medico, PCS Health Systems (Eli Lilly Co.), and Diversified Pharmaceutical Services (SmithKline Beecham) created barriers against PDN's entry to the marketplace.
"American Stores will bring additional resources and capabilities to enable PDN to fulfill its original vision of being an alternative to traditional PBMs," said Schneider.
The 1996 NACDS meeting will be held at the Grand Wailea Resort and Spa, Maui, Hawaii, April 27 to May 1.