by Kazeem Olalekan MRPharmS
I cannot help but notice, with concern, the latest news item
by in which Boots the Chemist is to offer ‘3 for 2’ mix and match promotion across its entire healthcare range this week (link). Clearly the customer will welcome an opportunity to pay less for products in these chastened times. If that is the laudable aim of Boots the Chemist, then why not reduce the price of individual products. Multiple buy offers are perfectly acceptable for general heathcare products but will be of concern for ‘Pharmacy, P’ medicines. The danger will always be the risk of encouraging people to buy more items than is needed which can pose public health issues. I support the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) statement on this (link):
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is clear that medicines are not normal items of commerce and should not be treated as such. Encouraging consumers to buy more pharmacy-only medicines than they need will not improve the health of the public.
Whilst we support initiatives that make it easier for patients to access medicines, in our view multi-buy promotions are not appropriate for this category of medicines.
The statement from the RPS also said that Boots must ‘ensure their advertising and marketing to consumers is aligned with the professional and legal obligations of pharmacists…Boots must support the professional and clinical decisions made by their pharmacists including where a sale is refused’.
I am writing this to highlight the subject of clinical leadership. Clearly Boots wants to differentiated itself in an otherwise competitive pharmacy market. If that is the case, then I can suggest a better way of differentiation:
Variation in treatment
The issue around ‘postcode lottery’ was highlighted recently (link). It revolves around a situation where some patients are offered treatments in some parts of the NHS whilst others are deprived. The NHS wants to introduce a scorecard system to reveal doctors not using the latest drugs. It is also clear that the NHS has shown leadership in accepting that pharmacists have important role to play in the management of patients’ medication through the introduction of Medicines Use Review (MUR) and New Medicines Services (NMS). Against this background, what happens to the person that has had to pay via the private route for a prescription which was denied by the NHS in their region. Who does their MUR and NMS? It should be viable to charge a small fee for the service but it is not beyond the ingenuity of pharmacy organisation through working with industry, to map out a way to make sure that anyone prescribed a National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved drug (on NHS or on Private Scripts) receives the valuable MUR and NMS services.
I will like to see pharmacy organisations differentiate themselves here and not through the process of encouraging the purchase of medicines that may not be needed. Empowering and Training of pharmacists and pharmacy staff is critical here.
My challenge to these pharmacy organisations is: Who will show clinical leadership?
I will like to see more of this:
and less of the multi-buy offer on pharmacy medicines.