LAS VEGAS — The recently created Pharmacy Services Department of the Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va., plans to help leverage supermarkets' food and pharmacy offerings, as well as to help fight regulatory and legislative battles on behalf of the membership.
In the keynote address at the FMI Supermarket Pharmacy Conference here last week, Cathy Polley, who was named FMI's first vice president, pharmacy services, last year, said: “FMI Pharmacy Services has been formed to help support the unique offering of pharmacies located within supermarkets.” The Pharmacy Conference was co-located with the FMI Show.
Interviewed by SN after her speech, Polley said the key challenge is: “How does FMI become the hub where food and pharmacy converge?”
The opportunity lies in advocating for supermarket pharmacists while leveraging their role in the store where they are surrounded by good food choices, as well as health and wellness offerings, she said.
“We are in a unique setting, so even on the advocacy side, we have many issues that are the same [as other retail channels, like drug stores], but there is a unique opportunity for supermarket pharmacy to make sure that lawmakers and policymakers understand what that unique opportunity is. We need to have that voice,” Polley said.
One example came last week during the conference when Polley put out a call to supermarket executives to communicate with Congress in advance of expected activity regarding Medicaid reimbursements, a top pharmacy priority.
Polley urged retailers to take immediate action to contact members of Congress, or to allow FMI to send communications on their behalf. The industry has estimated that 10,000 to 12,000 pharmacies could be forced to close because of this proposed reimbursement change.
“FMI has the ability to complement other organizations and associations that advocate on behalf of the community pharmacy industry. We can bring different lawmakers to the table because the committees on the Hill that food issues go through are not the same committees that drug issues go through, so we have connections and relationships with different offices in Congress,” Polley said.
Polley identified several key pharmacy legislative and regulatory issues that will be addressed this year: AMP at the federal and state levels; durable medical equipment; Medicare Part D revisions; tamper-resistant prescription pads; behind-the-counter drugs; e-prescribing; country-of-origin labeling; and reimportation.