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Executive Summary

American Pharmaceutical Association President John Schlegel is resigning, effective March 31, after nearly five years at the post, the association announced on March 6. The announcement followed a weekend retreat of the Board of Trustees in Annapolis, Maryland. Schlegel, 45, was selected APhA president on April 6, 1984 and has served since June 1 of that year. The association will not appoint an interim or acting president. Day-to-day operations will be handled by Chief Operating Officer Joan Zaro Saah, PhD, in conjunction with the board. Schlegel's resignation will become effective just a week before APhA's annual meeting, scheduled for April 8-12 in Anaheim, Calif. While the timing of his departure means that the annual meeting will be conducted without the linchpin of an association chief executive officer, it assures a high-attendance forum for the discussion of the next association president. An APhA search committee has asked that all nominations for the position be submitted by April 6, apparently in an effort to precipitate a review by the full board at the annual meeting. The association hopes to develop a short list of candidates and begin interviews with the full board within a week after the annual meeting. An informal target date for naming a new president is June 1. APhA's change in command coincides with the shifting of top jobs at HHS. Consequently, the association can consider for its new leadership the names of several experienced Washington government executives currently without commitments. Among the key figures departing from HHS are former Undersecretary Don Newman, a pharmacist from Indiana with long-term experience in Washington as a lobbyist and top government official, and Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Robert Helms. Helms is already headed to an APhA position. He is expected soon to accept the role of executive director of the APhA-affiliated American Pharmaceutical Institute. Helms, who has been a board member of the pharmacy policy think tank, will succeed Michael Pollard. A partner with the Washington law firm Michaels & Wishner, Pollard has served as API executive director on a part-time basis since the institute was founded in 1987. He will remain affiliated with API as a board member. The ongoing and rather protracted transition from the Reagan to Bush administrations may also play a role in Schlegel's career plans. The outgoing APhA executive reportedly was contacted early during the transition period about his possible interest in one of the HHS assistant secretary positions. Schlegel has not articulated any immediate plans but is said to prefer staying in the Washington area. Schlegel announced his decision to resign during the March 4-5 board retreat and then informed the APhA staff at a Monday morning meeting on March 6. The resignation ends a period of strained relationships between Schlegel and the elected board over issues such as membership, staff turnover and association spending during the last two years. As with many professional associations, the APhA board changes character rapidly. The current board has no holdovers from the group that selected Schlegel in 1984. The association's Chairman-Elect Philip Gerbino of Voorhees, N.J. will head the search committee to recommend the next president to the full board. The search committee comprises four other trustees: Tim Vordenbaumen (San Antonio, Texas), Thomas Garrison (Kansas City, Mo.), Susan Torrico (Orlando, Fla.) and Raymond Roberts (Orange Park, Fla.). In announcing Schlegel's resignation, the board credited him with improving the association's relations with other representatives of the health care community in Washington and with translating those alliances into legislative and regulatory gains for pharmacy. One of the primary challenges for Schlegel upon assuming the association leadership was revising a long-wolf image developed under his predecessor William Apple, who died in December 1983 after leading APhA for a quarter century. Because of his seniority and style, Apple by the end of his tenure individually defined the role and image of the organization in national affairs and often charted APhA's course separate and counter to other health care groups in Washington. Schlegel, by contrast, takes pride in his coalition building. Such efforts included a special task force with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association on the divisive issue of therapeutic interchange in 1987 and cosponsorship of a conference with the American Medical Association on impaired health professionals. The project with PMA on therapeutic substitution may have forestalled an open conflict between pharmacy and the brandname drug companies on the subject. In a farewell statement to APhA members, Schlegel highlighted the emphasis he placed on coalition-building. He noted that the association "has reached out anew to other pharmacy organizations by rejoining the National Drug Trade Conference, becoming a member of the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners and exercising leadership in the building of coalitions on a number of government affairs issues." APhA joined JCPP last year, a move Schlegel opposed early in his tenure. The APhA board cited the creation of the American Pharmaceutical Institute as a major achievement under Schlegel. The institute's purpose is to serve as a think tank "to conduct and encourage policy studies which will broaden the influence of practicing pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists on those who shape public policies affecting health care in the U.S." The API reflects Schlegel's interest in the broad issues of health care delivery. That interest helped determine some of the most visible efforts at APhA during the last five years and may have left some of the association's rank and file feeling under-represented on nuts-and-bolts practitioner issues. Schlegel's support for the outpatient drug coverage as a long-term benefit to pharmacy may have overshadowed for the membership other efforts on some of the evolving details of the program, such as who will be responsible for the costs of transmitting claims. APhA has pointed out the burden on providers that would result from absorbing transmission costs, but such complaints may have been muted in the association's overall support for the program. The API's establishment is one of many organizational changes that took place at APhA during the Schlegel years. The staff increased from about 55 employees in 1984 to 75. As a result of the staff reorganization, there were several notable departures from the association management -- both by holdover Apple associates and new hires under Schlegel. Those changes, some of which are almost unavoidable after the switch to a new manager after 25 years under one strong individual, contributed to board concerns about staff turnover. The Schlegel presidency began on an awkward note in an organizational fight with pharmaceutical scientists. The split led to the establishment of a spinoff group called the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. The schism developed while APhA was initiating a three-year strategic planning effort. In the last two years, some board members reportedly have questioned the association's spending in excess of revenues. APhA reportedly retains a reserve of about $6.5 mil. The reserve was about $7 mil. when Schlegel began his tenure.

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