NEW YORK -- Retail pharmacy operators who attended a Dec. 8 holiday luncheon here by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Alexandria, Va., heard that the trade organization will focus on lobbying state regulators in the coming year.
Given the significant delay in the transition to a new presidential administration, "it's going to be a pretty difficult year in Washington to get anything done," said Craig Fuller, NACDS president and chief executive officer, in a morning press conference of about 40 spectators.
Fuller said the trade organization would put on hold federal lobbying on issues such as adding a prescription medication benefit for needy seniors to Medicare and comprehensive Medicare reform in order to focus on state issues. These include allowing electronic prescription transfer and, with regard to manpower, increasing the ratio of pharmacy technicians to pharmacists.
"Pharmacy has to be managed locally because each state has different pharmacy regulations that dictate this approach," said Kevin Tripp, president, drug region, for multi-state operator Albertson's, Boise, Idaho.
Andrew A. Giancamilli, Kmart president and chief operating officer, concurred. "The state level is where regulation occurs for pharmacy," he explained. The Troy, Mich.-based mass merchandiser operates retail pharmacy units in all but two states, Giancamilli said.
For these reasons, Tripp and Giancamilli see an expanded state-level involvement by the NACDS as a plus. Fuller pledged to add another regional manager to the current five-person NACDS staff that goes out and talks to state regulators. He also told SN he would personally discuss issues with governors.
Both retail executives stressed the importance of individual initiatives whereby company associates join state boards of pharmacy to communicate their needs to the board. Neither executive provided a number of representatives, but each said officials from their respective companies belong to boards in various states.