It’s vital that community pharmacy and the OTC industry work together closely while pharmacy goes through important changes, Day Lewis executive director, Jay Patel, told guests at a lunch held to mark the winning products in The Pharmacy MVP Awards 2016.
“Try to support the community pharmacy sector as best you can, because they need all the support they can get to be able to make these changes happen. Yes, there are a lot of challenges in community pharmacy, but I can assure you that this is a very resilient sector. And that hammering from government – the reduction in funding – is causing pharmacy businesses to look at retail sales to try and replace some of the losses that they are experiencing with the NHS.”
On the positive, there is a range of things that can be done to help support retail sales and self-care in community pharmacy, he suggested in his address to the Pharmacy MVP Award winners. Product promotions, linking OTC sales to the dispensing process and clinical services, and the potential for retail sales in people’s homes, were several examples of the potential ideas that he described.
“Investment in promotions is a good thing. It gets our people to help practise their selling skills on that product, but also after the promotion is over we see a consistent rise in level of sales. These can often be repeat purchases, so investing in the short-term actually leads to long-term sales growth.”
“We should try to link the OTC sell to other services that are happening in the pharmacy, such as the dispensing process. Do you have any products that could be linked to long-term conditions? Is there an opportunity to put shelf talkers in the dispensary pointing out the opportunity? Also think about the clinical services that pharmacy provides. We have travel clinics through a PGD, and can link in travel medicines and other products that travellers need. So they leave with their antimalarials, but also with their sun lotions and more for their holiday.”
“The Healthy Living Pharmacy model is something that we at Day Lewis have practised for some time. Review your categories – if they are linked to a healthy living agenda then promote them; train people on them and those categories will grow.”
“We can think beyond the pharmacy, too. Pharmacies are servicing patients who don’t even come in to the stores. We have a large proportion of at-home patients who we deliver to – we spend around £2 million a year on deliveries to patients – and those patients could do with a targeted retail offering.”
“The final things that the OTC industry can do to help us is to make things slightly easier. You could look at combining the merchandising of P and GSL medicines. This would bring a bit more clarity to the patient and it would also make it a bit easier for the retail team to manage that combined P and GSL.”
“Individual leaflets and window posters are very difficult to manage, so more digital content for some of the marketing information would help to address that. Then there’s also the importance of clear packing: so patients are able to clearly understand what a product does. This helps because the pharmacist’s time is so restricted.”
Mr Patel spoke of the trends and opportunities for OTC manufacturers that he sees in the community pharmacy marketplace. “We’ve seen a rise in health and wellbeing products, and market forces are forcing contractors to look at OTC more seriously. Generally, there is an investment in premises and in training staff in community pharmacy, and that’s because they do see there being an opportunity for OTC sales to improve.”
Carolyn Scott, editor of P3, welcomed representatives from the winning products to a celebratory lunch held at The Dorchester in London’s Mayfair last month.
She said: “We’re here to mark your success in the Pharmacy MVP Awards 2016. We invited entries earlier in the year and then asked P3’s readers to vote for their ‘most valuable’ products from the past 12 months – the ones that stand out as being most useful for pharmacies to recommend and for consumers to use. It’s an impressive list of winning products across a wide range of clinical categories. My congratulations to all the winners.”
“We all know that community pharmacy is operating in a pretty unstable environment at the moment, certainly in England where government has been dictating terms on funding and services commissioning remains sparse. This of course puts a focus on other areas of potential revenue, such as OTC medicines, promoting self-care and encouraging the public to visit ‘pharmacy first’ for minor conditions and ongoing care for their long-term conditions.”
“Here at P3 we have something else to celebrate too: P3 is 10 years old this year.”