Behind the Scenes of the UK Pharmacy Sector

9th August 2016

Pharmacies act as a vital first point of call and can alleviate much of the pressure on an already overstretched health system.  And it’s the Independent Pharmacies that have long been the foundation of community services across the UK.  There are over 12,000 Pharmacies in the UK and Independent Green Cross Pharmacies comprise a 40% share of the market.

According to a study by A.T.  Kearney, Pharmacies are fundamentally important to the NHS and for a number of reasons.  From a cost per intervention perspective, you’re looking at just £25 with a pharmacist in comparison to £40 with a nurse and £80 with a GP.  There is also unmatchable access with 1.8m people visiting a pharmacy every day.  In fact, 84% of adults will visit a pharmacy at least once a year.  And most importantly of all, local pharmacies develop trusting relationships with patients, many of whom consider the pharmacy a step up from self-care but a step away from visiting their GP.  68% of adults say that they prefer pharmacies to GP surgeries as the hours are more convenient and there is no need to book appointments long in advance, which means that 44% of us are likely to seek help from a pharmacist when we get sick rather than seeing our GP.  The average person visits a pharmacy 14 times in a year with 11 of those visits for health reasons.

Pharmacists also dispense more than medication.  They are responsible for promoting a number of other health initiatives, from smoking cessation, to weight loss, issues with alcohol and sexual health, as well as minor ailments.  With half the population regularly visiting independent pharmacies, the future is a far more clinically-led approach with a broad catalogue of health services on offer with the emphasis being on national interventions activated through local community services.  There will be a gradual transformation of pharmacy premises into healthy living centres where the space is repurposed into consultation rooms or healthy living information areas.  And ultimately what will happen is a shift in patient perception from a pharmacist as a dispenser to a pharmacist as a provider of healthcare services and trusted advice.  Pharmacies will eventually become a more efficient supplier of medications and a more integrated provider of care and clinical advice which will in turn help the overstretched healthcare system to tackle the ever-growing burden of an ageing population and the increasing levels of chronic conditions.

When it comes to advertising opportunities in Pharmacies, we currently work with over 5,000 Independent Green Cross Pharmacies across the UK.  The outlets are supplied with branded Pharmacy Bags sponsored by advertisers looking to disseminate health messages, drive sales uplift for products sold over the counter in-store, reach a vulnerable customer base, or target the over 60s.  There are a number of reasons why pharmacy bags are so effective.  First and foremost, they are handed directly to consumers by the pharmacist.  Since 95% of people say they trust their pharmacist, this method of delivery serves to endorse your message and acts as prompt for consumers to raise questions or concerns which the pharmacist is only happy to answer on your behalf.  60% of pharmacy bags end up at home where medication is often kept in the bag and reused time and again offering multiple impacts to reinforce your message.  There is also the ability to insert leaflets with further information into the bags which consumers can take away and consume at their leisure.  This is useful for sensitive messaging on a particular health concern or outlining the benefits of a particular product.  There is also an opportunity to give away free product samples to consumers using a dispenser on the counter.  The whole effect is seamless and subliminal, but most importantly adds genuine gravitas.

*Sources:

A.T.  Kearney, The Future of Community Pharmacy in England

NHS Statistics

APBI Data