NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every Friday.

Innovation is spelled "RPh"

by NCPA | Feb 15, 2019

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

More than $1.7 billion was spent yesterday on Valentine's Day. Included in that dollar amount are the beloved heart-shaped candies with pithy messages like "HUG ME," "CUTIE PIE," or "XOXO." According to Smithsonian magazine, those little hearts helped launch America's modern candy industry. If you knew that a health care provider was the inventor, you might guess it was a dentist. But you'd be wrong. It was a pharmacist.

Boston pharmacist Oliver Price was the inventor of the wafer-shaped candy lozenges with words on them that evolved into the heart-shaped candies. He was just one of many pharmacist innovators. Georgia pharmacist John Stith Pemberton created the syrup for Coca-Cola, of course. North Carolina pharmacist Caleb Bradham was the inventor of Pepsi. The "doctor" in Dr Pepper was actually Texas pharmacist Charles Alderton, who created the soft drink in 1885.

Pharmacist innovation goes well beyond sugary treats (perhaps the assault on the pancreas was one of the catalysts for the innovation of insulin!). British pharmacist Stewart Adams, the inventor of ibuprofen, just passed away two weeks ago at the age of 95. Apparently, the old saying about "An ASA a day keeps the doctor away" meant something different to him.

Plenty of other pharmacist-created innovations from the past are helpful to consumers today, but pharmacist innovations are not limited to internationally known brands and products. Today's pharmacist innovations are still being created as they find ways to attract and care for patients.

The NCPA Innovation Center's NICE Awards are a great example of innovation by pharmacy owners. The 2019 award winners will be profiled in the March issue of America's Pharmacist®, headed soon to your mailbox.

Pointy is a new product that is not exclusive to pharmacies, but innovative pharmacy owners are using it, so consumers know what OTC products are available at their pharmacies. More and more OTC sales are migrating online. With Pointy, your pharmacy and its products can appear when consumers search for product availability. Rather than drive past your store on the way to a big box that spends tens of millions of dollars on television and print ads, Pointy points them in your direction.

Of course, even the cleverest pharmacist innovations can be shortchanged under the current payment model, in which PBMs steer consumers to certain pharmacies or to mail order. Changing the pharmacy payment model to one that is simple and transparent for patients, pharmacies, and plan sponsors is work NCPA is doing every day. One component of changing the current model is understanding the self-insured marketplace and how plan brokers operate. At the end of this month at the NCPA Multiple Locations Conference, one of the programs I am excited about is "Self-Insured Health Plans: Opportunities to Both Save and Make You Money," featuring health care brokers and pharmacy owners who have partnered with them.

The past history of pharmacist innovations is rich, and the legacy continues with innovative pharmacists creating new ways to enrich and improve patient lives.

Doug Hoey