Innovation, engagement soar at NACDS Annual Meeting – CDR – Chain Drug Review

“Together, we’re part of this journey, shaping the world to come.” PALM BEACH, Fla. – Sunday’s Business Program at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Annual Meeting reflected NACDS’ commitment to innovation amid exponential change, through the strength of highly engaged retailer and supplier members and through effective and vibrant association leadership. NACDS chair Mike Wysong, CEO of Care Pharmacies , and  NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson,  conveyed clear and consistent NACDS priorities, including: protecting and enhancing access to pharmacy services; securing pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reform; advancing the future of retail health and wellness – including “food is medicine”; leveraging the power of NACDS meetings and conferences; and serving the industry and nation well in the face of yet another generational moment. Anderson  highlighted the transformative power of technology, particularly AI and its potential for exponential impact on healthcare and retail – rivaling discoveries throughout history that have changed the course of these industries. He described NACDS’ leadership amid emerging and future change, citing NACDS’ proven strength, effectiveness, and proactive footing in navigating an array of challenges ranging from the Great Recession of 2008 to the COVID-19 pandemic – and many other examples in between. Wysong  synthesized his thoughts and experiences from his one-year term as NACDS chair, during which he sought to “leverage the chairmanship, paint a picture of collaboration, and continue to fuel the collective pride of our industry in a pivotal moment of uncertainty and great opportunity.” He shared insights from his 21-state, 42-city outreach to NACDS retailer and supplier members, and to national and state partners collaborating with NACDS and with the NACDS Foundation on priority issues. Wysong  reflected on his term as NACDS Chair: “So many of you, I had a chance to meet, talk to, and visit over the past year. I’ve attempted to gather my thoughts across this experience and the first thing I want you to know is that being the Chair of NACDS was the honor of my life.” He elaborated, “All my visits were a gentle reminder that you provide the frame for our industry, our association, and our painting of collaboration. You contribute through your products and services, and the way you offer them. Our Association plays a critical role in shaping our future, and provides a clear strategy and roadmap, while enabling everyone to participate in achieving our collective goals. “I know now, that when you conceive a vision and pursue it together, there is not a problem that can’t be solved. As I said before, NACDS was founded on the concept of people, with an understanding of the diversity of our gifts, talents, and skills. We must remember that destiny calls on each of us at different times and in different ways. It usually shows up in the form of opportunity and the problems that confront us and compel us. We must pay attention and willfully take these up together as a responsibility and as an obligation.” Anderson  recounted past NACDS Annual Meeting discussions about unexpected change – which seem prescient given the industry and NACDS’ COVID-19 response and given NACDS’ focus on the next opportunities to help improve the lives of Americans. He also reflected on innovations of NACDS’ first 90 years – the anniversary of which NACDS celebrated in 2023 – and the outlook for the next 90 years. He said: “As I stand here today, reflecting on the steam engine, electricity and the internet as transformative inventions, I’m reminded of how far we’ve come and how much further we can go. Consider the pivotal discoveries that have changed the course of healthcare: Fleming’s penicillin, Madame Curie’s X-rays, Salk’s polio vaccine, and the Human Genome Project. Each breakthrough has had a profound impact on medical science, reshaping the way we diagnose, treat, and understand diseases. “Now, we’re on the cusp of the next great leap. Quantum computing might soon help us solve cancer, AI is revolutionizing healthcare, and new technologies are changing the way we diagnose and treat diseases. It’s incredible to think about the journey ahead. As we embrace these advancements, it’s crucial to remember the potential they hold for improving patient care and health outcomes. Together, we’re part of this journey, shaping the world to come.” Lisa Paley, president, North America, Haleon,  also spoke, and Haleon supported this morning’s Business Program. Similarly,  Rick Sheppard, chief customer and commercial officer USA, Kevnue,  will speak at Tuesday’s Business Program, which is supported by Kenvue. In addition, author, journalist, and professor  Walter Isaacson  today drove the theme of innovation, with his perspective as the biographer of Leonardo DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and many others. Isaacson’s book  The Innovators  tells the story of 60 remarkable inventors and entrepreneurs and lessons learned from their ideas and disruptions. The theme will continue at Tuesday’s business program, when author and social scientist  Arthur Brooks  will share the chance to live happier and healthier through scientific understanding, based on his research into brain health and the mind.