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03/16/2022

It was such an eventful week. I wonder what next week could possibly bring?

 

Last week highlighted for me how fast the landscape continues to change in pharmacy.

It started Friday when I was honoured to moderate the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA) Spring PD Event. I was fortunate to moderate the same event one year earlier. So, in preparation for this year, I reviewed my opening comments from 2021. I was shocked to read my notes from only one year ago, “Starting on March 4th and 5th 2021, a limited number of Alberta community pharmacies have started providing Covid-19 vaccinations to some of the most vulnerable Albertans, those born in 1946 or earlier.” Honestly, it feels like a decade has passed since then.

I reported to the conference registrants that since March 2021, Alberta pharmacies have provided 4,377,305 Covid-19 vaccinations, and 896,852 influenza vaccinations. For those without a calculator handy, that averages to over 14,000 vaccinations per day. Add to that all the other Covid-related tasks and services pharmacy teams have provided, and I think we all have a reason to feel a bit worn down, both physically and mentally.

Pharmacists from across the country are telling us how exhausted they are, and I have no doubt this is true. Thank you for your service. I suspect we are all looking forward, with hope, to redirecting our focus to other areas of patient care.

Then, on Tuesday evening I received notice that Nancy and Steve Simonot were selling their specialty pharmacy business, NKS Health, to Green Shield Canada (GSC)[1]. NKS is the entity I have been working with to develop Neighbourly Pharmacy’s biologics/biosimilar business in Alberta. My first thought when I received this was to congratulate Nancy and Steve on the sale of their business. They’ve worked hard to develop a specialty pharmacy business that focuses on the patient. That’s why I wanted to work with them. My second thought was, “How does this affect me?”, and my third thought was, “Do I want to work with GSC?”

Time will tell how the sale affects what I am trying to build for Neighbourly in Alberta, but I’d like to comment on the third question, “Do I want to work with GSC?” If the NKS sale had occurred prior to the January 2022 GSC providerConnect® Pharmacy Update[2], my answer would have been a resounding “Hell No!” However, timing is key, and I will give GSC credit for indefinitely suspending phase three implementation of their Value-Based Pharmacy initiative. I think I speak for so many in the pharmacy community when I state this initiative was one of the worst conceived policies to be foisted upon us in many years. I’m prepared to let bygones be bygones and I’m looking forward to exploring the opportunities that GSC brings to the NKS business model.

Tuesday’s NKS announcement was quickly upstaged by the announcement on Thursday that Neighbourly Pharmacy has entered into an agreement to acquire Rubicon Pharmacies’ 100 locations[3]. The acquisition will result in Neighbourly operating 271 community pharmacies in Canada and cements Neighbourly’s positions as Canada’s fastest growing network of community pharmacies.

I must admit, a part of me felt good about picking the Neighbourly horse when selling Sandstone Pharmacies just a few short months ago. A bigger part of me had to admit I was glad it was @ChrisGardner who was responsible for convincing the Neighbourly board and investment community to take this huge step, and not me. I’ll do whatever I can to help welcome the Rubicon team members aboard and I look forward to working with them and learning from them in the future.

It was such an eventful week. I wonder what next week will possibly bring?

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