More pharma in pharmacy? McCann Health suggests closer relationships

Rx Mortar and Pestle
The pharma industry should look to build closer relationships with today's more patient-centric pharmacies, a new white paper says.

Pharmacies remain an untapped frontier for pharma companies as they evolve into one-stop patient shops for health and wellness needs, according to a new white paper from McCann Health. And pharma should take note.

The research looks at the future of pharmacies, outlining the opportunity and necessity for pharma to work more with them. As pharmacies become the frontline for many patients’ healthcare, building stronger and more engaged relationships with them is key for drugmakers.

“There is danger in generalizing (the pharma and pharmacy relationship), but with that caveat, traditionally, pharma companies have developed strong trade-focused, transactional relationships with pharmacy, presenting them with products and deals as distribution intermediaries, but are failing to engage with pharmacy in the important clinical and patient-focused conversations,” the authors of the paper said in an email interview.

Mark Worman, McCann Health’s global marketing director, and Sandra Carey, president of the McCann Pharmacy Initiative, said pharma companies may be missing an opportunity in not recognizing pharmacists as highly educated expert healthcare professionals. While pharma has long-held communication channels and relationships with established patient-facing healthcare providers, the pharma industry’s connections to pharmacy are typically less involved.

“Much of pharma already calls on pharmacy and so their focus should be on changing the conversation and aligning the call to the customer needs and the professional requirements of pharmacy as the healthcare professional consumers likely see most often,” Worman and Carey said.

Some pharma companies are already making those kinds of changes. McCann Health pointed to GSK Consumer Healthcare’s pharmacy education program called myPharmAssist. The effort delivers custom content to the pharmacies as part of the drug company’s commitment “to enable shopper-patients to take better care of themselves, prevent chronic conditions, stay adherent to medicines, and reduce healthcare costs by using pharmacies as their health hub.”

Another way pharmacies and pharma could work together is through disease or health awareness campaigns.

“In the community setting, pharmacy has the face-to-face and personal connection with patients and health consumers should find increasing value in this relationship when it is personalized and outcomes focused,” the authors said. “… When pharma sees pharmacy in this new role, finding co-marketing opportunity should be easy for them.”

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