Celebrating Independent Pharmacy Champion Pete Stern – Part Two
With Currus CEO Pete Stern retiring next month, we take a look back at some of the accomplishments the organization saw under his second decade of leadership (2000-09).
What were some of the goals of KPSC heading into the new millennium?
In 1999, we had five goals. First, to keep expanding the number of members and level of purchasing in the buying program. Second, to expand our reach through our prescription benefit administration firm. Third, to prioritize what types of advocacy we needed to be involved in on behalf of our members. Fourth, to get the EOG off the ground and lastly, find additional meaningful member benefits.
Were pharmacies concerned at all about Y2K and how it might affect their business?
They were concerned about how their software vendors may or may not respond for them. It turns out Y2K was much less of a problem than they and the public thought.
You hired the Gaches firm to help with lobbying in 2003, how did that change things legislatively for the organization and its members?
In hiring our own lobbying firm, we had a more exclusive focus on independent pharmacy issues. That’s what we wanted and that’s what we got. Our members and our board members clearly wanted some lobbying effort to focus only on independents – primarily at the state level.
Along with hiring Gaches, in 2006 we formed the Kansas Independent Pharmacy PAC and it too was focused on independent pharmacy in Kansas. By its third year, we were able to contribute about $13,000 to state legislative candidates who were supportive of independent pharmacy positions.
What were some of the key advocacy actions for KPSC during this time?
Federally, the Medicare Part D program began in 2005 to 2006. It was a massive change for independent pharmacies and KPSC took upon itself to be the leading educator and resource for independents on Part D. Later in the decade, I was on the advisory committee for a prominent Part D plan – Community CCRX.
Our expertise had to be widened to cover Kansas Board of Pharmacy regulations so we were more involved in those meetings and listening to how the regulations could impact our members.
Tell us about the Kansas Hometown Pharmacy PR campaign in 2008.
We started the campaign because we wanted to promote and brand our members as local experts in pharmacy and health care. We did three years of TV advertisements all around the state and it received a lot of positive press.
Really the idea was as a benefit for our members to show the distinct value of local pharmacy and it accomplished that.
How had the EOG grown during this time?
We had to establish and grow a meaningful scholarship program. We started developing events and one of the first events we did were roundtables where we would invite member pharmacists to come and speak to students once per semester. I also started the essential services talk each year for the chapter which was a how-to seminar on operating an independent pharmacy.
Through repeated promotion of the EOG and the KU NCPA chapter, students really started paying attention to learning about independent opportunities. Because of that, we were able to provide 100 scholarships to students during the first decade of the EOG.
What other accomplishments did the organization achieve during this decade?
We changed Prescription Network of Kansas to Prescription Network because we began to have more of a regional presence as opposed to just Kansas.
The other thing that we accomplished in 2005 was creating our Mid-Year Meeting. We wanted to have an event that would help our members with their operational performance and advocacy by having key state level and national speakers. This helped provide our members with an additional benefit.
What was happening with the Stern family household during these years?
My kids were always very busy with activities. Charlie graduated from high school in 2005 and Caroline graduated in 2009. Both were very involved in the arts and they both took it upon themselves to learn another language.
My wife’s first career was as a nurse but she graduated from law school in 1998 and was in private practice in the early 2000’s. She went on to become the General Counsel and VP of Clinical Services at the Kansas Hospital Association.
What were some of your extracurricular activities that you were involved in during this time?
I played the trumpet a lot. I played in the Topeka Symphony Orchestra and it improved a lot during these years and I was glad to be a part of that group. With the symphony we got to play with the Canadian Brass and I was able to do a triple quintet piece with them. I was also a member of the Topeka Brass Quintet (which I founded in 1979) and we played a lot of events throughout town and there were other groups I played in as well.
Over the years I’ve been lucky to have played with country artists, rock artists, and Las Vegas acts.