Celebrating Independent Pharmacy Champion Pete Stern – Part Three
With Currus CEO Pete Stern retiring at the end of this month, we take a look at some of the accomplishments the organization saw under his third decade of leadership (2009-2019) and hear about some of his plans for retirement.
How had the pharmacy landscape changed for the organization heading into the new decade in 2010?
Pharmacies were in an increased need of operating more efficiently and managing declining reimbursements and we attempted to help them with more political advocacy like fair Medicare reimbursement.
What new things were happening with the organization?
In September 2009 we went to an exclusive relationship with McKesson through the Pace buying group. I felt that we needed to have an exclusive wholesaler for our members to enhance their competitiveness. We also installed two new key member benefits that really impacted our members. We offered reimbursement for iMedicare software and reimbursements for members who attend NCPA Ownership Workshops – signaling from us that properly operating and managing a pharmacy is extremely important.
The Pace Alliance buying group merged with the IPC buying group in April 2017. I was chairman of Pace Alliance from 2013 to 2017 and I felt it was the right move because IPC was by far the largest buying group in the country and they were very committed to improving their program on behalf of their independent pharmacy members. Unlike almost all other states, our organization offers strong dividends to our members and have for many years.
We also purchased our current building in 2015. We were looking for a space that accommodated our continual growth. We’ve grown from eight employees to 14 employees and the building is a testament to our growth as an organization. Our prescription benefit administration division, Prescription Network, also increased its revenue four-times over during this time period.
What went into the decision to change the organization’s name from KPSC to Currus?
We wanted to move the organization into the future. The name change and planning process helped renew our energy in promoting all that we do and expanding all that we do for independent pharmacies in Kansas, which is why we made the change in the spring of 2018. The goal was to re-emphasize with our members and legislators the role we play and our many benefits that we offer our members.
What were some of the major legislative victories for KPSC during this time?
Our Kansas Independent Pharmacy PAC has really grown during this time and our contributions from our organization and our members have opened doors at the state level. We helped establish a fair reimbursement with KanCare and remained aggressive moving the Medicaid dispensing fee back up to $10.50 – which was a big win for our members.
We have been very active in the fight against DIR fees. We’ve worked well with our national partners IPC and NCPA to make legislators aware of the issues and we’re getting closer to having that become a reality.
What new events were happening with the EOG program?
This decade has been about setting a standard of events. We now have events that we hold annually with the students like a pharmacy financials discussion, a talk from our lobbyist, Travis Lowe, teaching them how to be informed politically as pharmacists, and much more.
To commemorate our commitment to independent pharmacy and to the KU School of Pharmacy, the university dedicated two plaques in our honor at both their Lawrence and Wichita campuses.
How many scholarships have been awarded to students in total during your time here?
There have been 283 scholarships awarded as of the summer of 2019. After 21 years since its inception, more than $300,000 has been contributed to the EOG program through Currus and other organizations to help provide educational opportunities for students at the KU School of Pharmacy.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of over your career at Currus/KPSC?
I’m most proud of turning this corporation into a multi-faceted organization for the sake of independent pharmacy in Kansas. We have turned a small, limited organization into one that now has a buying program, a strong advocacy group, a strong relationship with the KU School of Pharmacy, and benefits for our members. You need all of these to help move independent pharmacy forward and I think Currus is poised to keep moving forward for years to come.
For several years now you have spoken to various schools and groups about your father’s life. Tell us a little bit about that and why you feel passionately about telling his story.
Seven years ago I got involved with the 9th Infantry Division Association because of my dad’s strong involvement in that organization. As of August 2019 I am the President of the Board of Governors of that group. The association exists to perpetuate the memories of the veterans that served in the 9th and to serve as a source of information for vets and others that belong to the association.
I also do a presentation about my father’s life which includes him growing up in Germany in the 1920s and 30s and escaping in 1936 and joining the United State Army. Because of his multi-lingual skills he was able to interrogate captured and wounded German officers and helped liberate a slave labor camp in eastern Germany.
It’s a story I tell to middle school and high school students, corporate groups, church groups, and others. I do it to share his story, to teach people about the horrors of the Holocaust era, and to remind them that something like that can never happen again.
What are some of your other plans for retirement?
I will continue to play the trumpet in some of the groups that I’m still involved in. I plan to travel more and visit my kids in Colorado and in Texas. I also plan to play more tennis to keep me active.