The NACDS Total Store Expo: Interaction, Innovation, and Insights

Earlier this month, Rx EDGE once again exhibited at the NACDS Total Store Expo, an annual event organized by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.  It’s a unique coming-together of executives from drug, mass, and supermarket pharmacies and their business partners, including those in the pharmaceutical and other health-focused industries.  5,500 people attended this year and there were 740 exhibitors and over 20 special programs and insight sessions.

NACDS blog image

You’d think that at such a huge function, it would be difficult to conduct meaningful business and make personal connections.  But we did not find that to be the case at all.  We met with virtually all of our key clients to share ideas and plans for the coming months – and still managed to attend numerous education sessions and “work the booth” over the course of the three days.  Needless to say, it was exhausting, but also extremely rewarding.

“The most innovative period of time”

The environment at the Total Store Expo was exceptionally positive.  I’ve attended this event multiple times, but I have to say that the excitement level this year was at an all-time high.  At the outset of his presentation “The U.S. Pharmaceutical Market:  Trends and Outlook”, Doug Long, Vice President of Industry Relations at IMS Health, said something that pretty much set the tone:  “We are in the most innovative period of time for pharma since 1996″.  That was not an over-statement, based on what followed in his presentation.  All the trends he reported upon point to a continued positive outlook for the pharmaceutical industry and for pharmacy:

  • The number of traditional drugs that are losing their patents is decreasing. Long predicted that “What’s happened is we’re starting to run out of generic small-molecule opportunities, and innovation has come back.”
  • A considerable level of innovation is happening in the pharmaceutical space, with 943 active substances expected to launch between now and 2020
  • Higher brand spending and fewer patent expiries helped grow the U.S. market by $46Bn to $425Bn in the last 12 months
  • Spending on brands launched in the last 24 months contributed $21B of the $41B in growth in moving annual total prescription spending seen in the last 12 months (as of May 2016). Generics accounted for only 6% of sales growth.
  • Retail/chain store volume dominates the market and is forecasted to consistently grow faster than the market rate
  • Pharmacists can prescribe in more places, with their ability to write prescriptions expanding state by state.

Growth of healthcare services – and products

The pharmacy’s ever-accelerating role in healthcare was a key focus throughout the event.

  • NACDS Chairman Martin Otto and NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, who both spoke during a Business Program at the event, positioned pharmacy as a solution-provider for the nation. Otto, who is chief merchant and chief financial officer of H-E-B, said that “We need improved access to quality, affordable healthcare, which pharmacy can help to provide.”
  • The presentation “Community-Based Point-of-Care Testing: From Innovative Care Model to Common Practice”, highlighted how advancements in screening for acute and chronic conditions in community pharmacies is contributing to improved health and better disease management.  The benefits of engaging retail pharmacies in screening services were emphasized – such as 7-day access/no appointment needed, no office visit fees, and convenient access to medications and immunizations.

In his talk on “Consumer-Driven Healthcare”, Jeff Gregori, who is the Group VP of Consumer and Shopper Analytics for Nielsen, stated that “When you look at the state of today’s consumer, it’s really about prevention. There’s just such a hyper-focus on health,” Gregori said. “The reason for retailers to get much more focused on health care [is] the consumer demand is there.” Few non-food sectors have driven growth at retail like health care. Since 2011, healthcare products have represented 22.7% of overall non-food growth with $6.3 billion in increased sales.”  He went on to point out the significant opportunity across the front end of retail pharmacy to help consumers better manage chronic disease states.

The future is NOW, and the outlook is good

During an interview conducted during the event, NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson stated that “The future is not five to ten years from now.  It’s next week, it’s next month, it’s next year.”  We at Rx EDGE are excited to be part of that future and all it will bring.