NPAC…Name change?

So The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada (NPAC) (formerly known as the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores or CACDS) has announced a new central theme focused on “transparency and collaboration in its ongoing relationships with the national and provincial pharmacy associations, governments, and private insurance payers”.

“This is an exciting and pivotal time…as we usher in a new era of transparency, member engagement, industry collaboration, and delivery on important but focused advocacy outcomes,” Justin Bates, Neighbourhood Pharmacies’ CEO, said in a statement.

Could anyone please translate what this last statement means? A new era of transparency?  Does this mean up to now things were not so transparent?

This is another recent quotation from Justin Bates:

As the scrutiny of pharmacy practice and business increases, it is critical that we enhance our capability to develop the highest degree of cohesion and unity, in order to earn the trust and respect for the association in the current Canadian healthcare environment.”


When the organization formerly referred to itself as the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS), membership was restricted to big chains, & the association’s name described exactly what it was…an organization dedicated to the interests of chains…the business of pharmacy which now controls 85% of pharmacy, and employs the majority of pharmacists in this country as retail employees with few rights, or control over their profession.  Though if you look at the NPAC membership list today, all the pharmacy banners are included, which means individual pharmacy owners…not restricted to chain drug stores at all.  So is this is more of a commercial/business association rather than a chain store association?

Perhaps this is why Shoppers Drug Mart left the CACDS a few years ago, citing their interests were already well served through the Federation of Independent Business… as I recollect.  Anyhow NPAC is a real hybrid today.

Regardless of the name change or the composition of various associations like CPhA, NPAC or the OPA etc. power has shifted distinctively, and it now lies with the big players.  Even the professional colleges (OCP etc.)  won’t take on these big guys.  The pharmacy associations have tilted markedly towards business owner interests, while the pharmacy faculties dutifully churn out more graduates (now Pharm Ds) every year to blindly serve those retail business interests.  Little thought is given to the professional satisfaction levels that graduates may or may not enjoy in this new world of BPR.

As for government, at least the gates have now been largely closed to the flood of International Pharmacy Graduates (IPGs)… but the harm has already been done.  A huge pharmacist oversupply is the reality today, with the consequence of compensation decreases of as much as 40% in many markets, and now even unemployment.  In Toronto today a pharmacy technician working in a hospital may make the equivalent of a PharmD working as an employee in a retail pharmacy. Who would ever have believed that unemployment would be a problem for pharmacists today? Yet more and more graduates are thrown into the marketplace every year.

The pharmacy world has evolved in an unfortunate direction; the future now lies with a new breed of graduates who hopefully will not accept the status quo, and who will seek out and find ways to develop themselves and the pharmacy profession in the future.  There is hope for the profession and this burden of hope lies with these fresh newly minted pharmacy pioneers

So, back to the question.  Since when does a big box grocery pharmacy, or a mass merchandise discounter conjure up the image of a “neighbourhood pharmacy?  What is the real purpose of this rebranding exercise?

What do we now call a really independent pharmacy (few as they may be) situated in the heart of a residential community now owned and operated by an independent pharmacist? Are they all neighbourhood pharmacies… 100,000 sq.ft. mega stores and 1,000 sq. ft. dispensaries alike?  Are they all dedicated to “focused patient outcomes”?  I guess the message would be yes…if they are physically in your neigbourhood.  I’m not so sure.

At the same time, what does “collaboration with associations, and governments” really mean?  What are these “focused patient outcomes” which are referred to as being the new goal of the NPAC?

I thought the focus of retailing, especially big retailing, was to sell as much stuff as possible to every person that walks into these mega food/general merchandise/pharmacy retailers.

Changing one’s name and declaring a new mission statement may make good press, but it does not change the business strategy.

So back to “collaboration” … when the fox invites the rabbit to lunch, the rabbit first asks what’s on the menu.”