CHICAGO -- Retailers at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' 2001 Pharmacy & Technology Conference here last week expressed concern over the Medicare prescription discount card program advocated by the Bush administration. A representative of the president's administration, Jon Glaudemans, gave a concise overview of the plans to provide point-of-sale discount drug cards.
While Glaudemans said he was sensitive to retailers' opposition, grocery chain officials like James McGrath, manager of pharmacy operations, Shaw's Supermarkets, West Bridgewater, Mass., were not comforted. "It's discouraging," he told SN. "There was no bending of the way it's going to be handled."
Retailers fear that the Bush plan will persuade customers to utilize mail order, while pharmacies shoulder the financial burden.
John Beckner, director of pharmacy and health services for Ukrop's Supermarkets, Richmond, Va., also was disappointed in what Glaudemans had to say.
"He didn't address that the program devalued pharmacies' value -- that's the issue," he said.
Bob Greenwood, manager, business analysis, for Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, said, "We have to maintain our margins for as long as we can, and this plan isn't going in the right direction."
However, one West Coast-based retailer source said, on condition of anonymity, that he was in favor of Bush's comprehensive drug benefit plan.