APEX 2024

Keeping Hope Alive

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter Uplifts & Inspires
APEX Audience Thirsting for PBM Relief

► 2024 Photo Montage

► APEX 2025 Flyer

► CE Session Slide Printouts

Our APEX conference is always educational and energizing, but attendees at this year's event at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio got an extra dose of hope and inspiration from their greatest champion in Congress.

In a Saturday morning (6/15) address at APEX, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia –― the "godfather" of independent pharmacy advocacy –― told pharmacists not to give up hope because PBM reform IS coming from Congress. The congressman used his characteristic humor and energy to leave the audience both hopeful and inspired.

Carter, an independent pharmacy owner for 30+ years, said momentum in Congress for major PBM reform has never been higher, even though the slow pace of lawmakers' deliberations can make it seem otherwise.

"We are closer now than we have ever been," Carter said. "We have come farther in the last year than we have in the previous 10 years combined."

Carter said support for PBM reform is both deep and bipartisan in Congress. He pointed out that both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats alike are united in their commitment to deliver PBM reform.

"Man, I mean when you know that Buddy Carter, Bernie Sanders and AOC (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY) are on the same page, it really IS bipartisan," he quipped.

Carter urged pharmacists, technicians and their customers to keep up the pressure on PBMs by writing their members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to urge PBM reform. It's critical, he said, to keep up the pressure, even though PBM reform may seem like an inevitability.

"When you have your hands around the throat of the PBMs, it is not the time to relax your grip," he stressed.

After delivering his remarks, Carter took multiple questions from the audience. After the speech, APRx Board Chairman Joe Ochoa (shown in photo at top with Carter) presented Carter with American Pharmacies' Champion of Pharmacy Award, the first time the award has been presented to a federal official.

Afterward, Carter was the guest of honor at a special fundraising luncheon attended by 44 people.





President Laird Leavoy (L) thanks Carter at the end of the fundraising luncheon.


"Representative Carter delivered a powerful message on hope and perseverance," American Pharmacies President Laird Leavoy said. "As he emphasized, we have to keep up the pressure until Congress passes reforms."

Leavoy credited the great relationship the APRx advocacy team and its Washington lobbyist, Steven Irizarry, have built with Carter's office for getting the well-known pharmacy champion to APEX. 

"We have proven our value to him as a strong resource and an eager ally," Leavoy said.

 APEX Delivers
Big on Content
& Community


From left, pharmacists Teresa Dickinson of AZ, Ben Holter of OH, Grant Brown of MI and Sam Schmidt of MI.

Seasoned attendees and first-timers alike thrive on the collegial, welcoming atmosphere of APEX and the opportunity to commune with diverse colleagues. They come to learn, collaborate and kick back in a family-friendly environment.

The conference delivered all that and more. AmerisourceBergen, our most important partner, was our premier event sponsor and registered a strong presence at the event that underscored their commitment to our vital relationship. Our wholesale partner brought 13 representatives to the event, operated three booths in the Exhibit Hall and presented three breakout sessions on Saturday afternoon.

APEX kicked off Thursday morning with our traditional foursome scramble golf tournament at the scenic Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club. Fifty+ golfers enjoyed the sprawling 27-hole championship course under mostly cloudy skies and occasional drizzle that tamed the Texas heat.

Thursday afternoon presentations opened with a well-attended RxCompass training sessions that underscored the patient value and pharmacy profitability of our industry-leading data metrics platform. RxCompass training was followed by a vendor breakout session with EnlivenHealth.

Next came an informative presentation on pay-for-performance opportunities from AmerisourceBergen's Jim McCaslin.

For tfhe rst time, American Pharmacies opened its Exhibit Hall from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday evening and attendees enjoyed libations and food while circulating among more than 40 well-chosen exhibitors offering a variety of quality products and services. Traffic in the Exhibit Hall was lively and the cozy booth layout encouraged lots of interactions.

Friday was a truly impactful day, with critical CE sessions, an awards ceremony and a second exhibit hall packed with vendors.

After the morning buffet breakfast, Friday's activities kicked off with Ryan Burke of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) delivering an important CE session on the importance of advanced training and certifications for pharmacy technicians to allow them to take on greater responsibilities in the pharmacy. After the session, a panel of technicians and pharmacists (including Michigan pharmacist member Austin Brown, left) answered questions and offered insights. The panel discussion starkly highlighted the ongoing challenge that owners face in finding qualified, committed technicians, a need that American Pharmacies addressed by bringing in PTCB and the College of Healthcare Professions to exhibit.

Next, Jen Rolewski, director of sales and operations at Atrium 24, delivered an impactful CE on the importance of marketing to both patients and practitioners, offering pointers ranging from websites and marketing events to provider detailing and quick-pitch elevator speeches.

After lunch, General Counsel Miguel Rodriguez followed with a CE session on PBM-related litigation and other legal activities around the country, focusing on American Pharmacies' growing cooperation and engagement in important federal lawsuits.

During the afternoon General Session, President Laird Leavoy (R) addressed attendees to reassure them that American Pharmacies is fully engaged every day in working to protect the independent pharmacy business model, pointing out many ways in which the organization is adapting to meet independents' evolving needs.

Leavoy especially highlighted American Pharmacies' growing advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., the creation of APRx's new Pharmacy and Clinical Services Division and the dynamics of the new Next Generation Council, a forward-looking advisory group of young second-generation pharmacists.

After Leavoy's address, VP of Pharmacy Analytics and Clinical Services Jeff Jacobs and VP of Marketing & Communications Chuck Waters presented several awards and recognized several notable achievements.

  • Jacobs honored three RxCompass power users for their achievements: New Board member Russell Pelzel of Pilot Point, TX, was honored as RxCompass Member of the Year; Technician Claudia Gonzalez of Ochoa's Pharmacy in Edinburg, TX, was honored as RxCompass User of the Year; and pharmacy owner Dave Olsen of California was recognized as RxCompass Newcomer of the Year.
  • Waters recognized outgoing Board members Bruce Rogers and Mike Muecke for their outstanding service to the Board. Rogers was the last of the original American Pharmacies board members, serving from the Board's creation in 2002 through June 2024. Muecke has served 18 years on the Board.
  • He also recognized incoming Board members Russell Pelzel and Sabrina Griggs. Griggs, who is owner of the Apothecary Shop in Kerrville, TX, is the first woman to serve on the APRx Board, an announcement that drew hearty cheers from the women in the audience. Both will begin their terms on the Board July 1.
  • Three University of the Incarnate Word pharmacy students were announced as 2024 scholarship winners. Casey Hourigan and Kelsey Nguyen were recognized as winners of American Pharmacies Independent Spirit scholarships. Samantha Windler was recognized as the winner of the Laurie Leavoy Memorial Scholarship that was funded by APRX President Laird Leavoy.

After the awards session, the Annual Shareholders and Members meeting allowed attendees to hear important updates and insights from senior staff on purchasing economics; RxCompass and clinical services; marketing and communications; inside sales and sales dynamics.

The Board of Directors held a 30-minute meet-and-greet session to allow members to get to know the Board better, ask questions or just exchange greetings.

The evening concluded with a second exhibitors' fair in the Exhibit Hall, with widespread mingling, vendor interactions and exhibitor breakout sessions.

Saturday kicked off with an important CE session on Predicting Drug-Nutrient Interactions, conducted by Ohio pharmacy owner Ben Holter, who does a lot of nutrient depletion counseling at his Ohio pharmacies. The session spotlighted the growing focus on identifying drug-nutrient interactions and the tremendous retail opportunity for pharmacies in OTC vitamins and other supplements.

Saturday morning programs concluded with VP of Government Affairs Michael Wright's 2024 Advocacy Update and Awards. Wright covered vital state and federal advocacy issues and how APRx works in many states and Washington to protect independent pharmacy. He also covered the importance of pharmacist engagement and presented awards to three people who are outstanding advocates for independent pharmacy:

  • APRx member Bryan Abernathy of TX;
  • APRx member Teresa Dickinson of AZ (shown above with Michael Wright);
  • APRx member Micah Lansford of NM.

After Wright's Presentation, Rep. Buddy Carter took the stage, as described above.

After lunch, AmerisourceBergen experts conducted breakout sessions on audits, GNP marketing programs and pay-for-performance opportunities.

Saturday evening's lively Luau Party at the tree-shaded pool and Luckenbach Pavilion was a festive concluding event. Colorful Hawaiian-clad attendees enjoyed barbecue and were entertained with Hawaiian music, hula dancers and fire dancers (see below), music and dancing.

"APEX showcases the value and community of American Pharmacies," Leavoy said. "The education, collaboration and fellowship people experience here are truly special. It's the most powerful expression of our culture and value proposition."


2024 CE Sessions

NOTE:  These are copies of the CE session slide decks, not online CE that can be completed for credit.


Friday, June 14

Making the Case for Advanced Pharmacy Technician Roles

Marketing to Patients & Prescribers

2024 Legal Update


Saturday, June 15

Predicting Drug-Nutrient Interactions

2024 Advocacy Update