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RBC 2023: Celebrating, empowering and advocating for retail independent pharmacies

At this year’s Retail Business Conference (RBC), Cardinal Health brought together more than 4,000 retail independent pharmacies in Boston for a multi-day event featuring continuing education sessions, insights from Cardinal Health leaders and industry experts, networking opportunities and solutions designed to empower pharmacies to thrive in a continually evolving landscape.

Celebrating the role of retail independents in their communities

Throughout RBC 2023, Cardinal Health leaders recognized retail independent pharmacies’ role in the communities they serve, delivering personalized care with passion and dedication.

“A community is more than just a place, more than a dot on the map. Communities represent people living together, working together, and taking care of each other,” said Chris Lanctot, SVP, Retail Independent and Inside Sales, during his opening remarks. “The relationships you have with the members of your communities are at the center of everything you do.”

During his remarks in the industry and advocacy session, Brad Cochran, EVP, Retail Distribution, added, “I’m always inspired by the critical role that independent pharmacists play in the communities you serve. The personal attention, services and care you deliver every day are essential to driving improved health outcomes for your patients, and you’re doing it all while taking on more patient-facing responsibilities, working longer hours and facing some of your toughest challenges.”

Recognizing excellence in community pharmacy

Each year at RBC, Cardinal Health and its National Retail Advisory Board of pharmacists present the Community Leadership Award to a pharmacy demonstrating a commitment to promoting core principles of community pharmacy, including community leadership and involvement, inspiring others, and going above and beyond to make their community a better place to live.

This year’s recipient, Joe Shunnarah of Joe’s Pharmacy, demonstrated an exceptional commitment to his Harvest, Alabama, local community, from donating products to EMTs in the aftermath of a tornado and providing shelter for those in need. In addition, each year the pharmacy staff hosts fundraisers for local schools and helps school nurses ensure they have what they need to care for students. Watch the video below to hear what drives Joe to serve his community. 

Other nominees for this year’s award included Larry Webber, owner of Webber’s Pharmacy, Jackson Street Drug and Parkway Pharmacy in Mexico, Missouri, who was recognized for his decades of outstanding community service, and Edna Lopez of Farmacia Aliadas Yarimar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, who has played a critical role in combatting health crises amidst natural disasters in her community.

Advocating on behalf of pharmacy services

During the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists were reimbursed for providing critical clinical services to their communities, increasing access to vaccine administration, diagnostic testing and medication management counseling. A 2022 poll by NACDS found that nearly two-thirds of patients – including more than 75% of older Americans – want to retain access to these services at their pharmacies.

Cardinal Health, working with industry partners and organizations such as the National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) Future of Pharmacy Care Coalition, is advocating on behalf of pharmacies to extend access to these services permanently. In addition, we continue to advocate for provider status, transparency in the pharmaceutical pricing supply chain, and increased Medicaid reimbursements.

In his remarks on industry advocacy, Cochran noted that while there is more work to be done, ongoing advocacy has helped to bring attention to these issues and unite legislators on both sides of the aisle.

“The voices of pharmacists have helped to bring bipartisan attention to the impact you make in your community and the challenges you face. Over the past few years, we’ve seen legislators become more familiar and engaged on these issues,” he said.

Cochran encouraged pharmacists to advocate at the local level on behalf of their patients and themselves, emphasizing the collective power pharmacists have when they participate in the industry conversation. “In today’s complex and changing healthcare landscape, making your voice heard is more important than ever. One voice can only speak so loudly. When you come together as a community with the shared purpose of ensuring patients receive the best possible care, your voices are stronger and louder.”

U.S Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA-01) and Doug Hoey, CEO of NCPA, participated in the conversation on industry advocacy, sharing their insights on the current legislative landscape, and discussing current efforts to ensure patient access to clinical services, including the Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act. This bipartisan legislation seeks to ensure that seniors can continue to access clinical services from their pharmacists. Carter and Hoey also urged pharmacies to participate in advocacy with their local governments and offered advice on how to get involved.

Providing opportunities to empower retail independent pharmacies

In addition to this year’s mainstage presentations, guest speakers, and entertainment, RBC provided pharmacists ample opportunities to grow and optimize their business. The Cardinal Health CounterTalk™ Theater featured several sessions on topics impacting pharmacists in 2023, including compliance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which takes effect in November; preparing for 2024 changes to PBM/Medicare Performance Programs; the commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines; and the latest digital trends for reaching patients.

The CounterTalk™ podcast recorded several episodes live onsite at the event, hosting conversations with AARP on the state of the caregiver and recording an exclusive interview with Carter and Hoey. Additional episodes featured discussions on front-end market trends, how to profit from sales of OTC hearing aids, and innovations in continuous glucose management. Episodes will be available via the CounterTalk™ site and streaming platforms.  

From recognizing the critical role pharmacies play in keeping their communities healthy to advocating on their behalf and providing guidance and solutions, RBC 2023 showcased the many ways Cardinal Health is helping retail independent pharmacies thrive.

“We remain committed to being your trusted partner,” said Debbie Weitzman, CEO of Cardinal Health’s Pharmaceutical Segment, in her remarks. “Your pharmacy is an essential healthcare destination in your community, and that is why independent pharmacies are essential to Cardinal Health – you and your patients are at the center of everything we do.”

Shown above: Retail Business Conference mainstage in Boston, which featured Cardinal Health leaders, guest speakers and industry experts during this year’s event.

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Cardinal Health is a distributor of pharmaceuticals, a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. Subscribe to our News Alerts to get all of our latest news.