Guest Opinion: Big Pharma needs retail pharmacy to beat odds

You think retail pharmacy’s got it tough? Take a look at what the drug companies are up against:

Expiring drug patents

Increasing pricing pressure

Lower reimbursement rates

Laborious new drug launch processes

Black-box warnings

Endless reams of bad press

Prescription drug revenue growth is down; script growth is anemic

Few new blockbusters on the horizon

Mounting layoffs

 

How will drug companies respond? Many have said they will shift into devices, vaccines, generics, OTCs, biotech and emerging markets.

So, what does this mean for retail pharmacy? Doesn’t having a big percentage of its volume coming from prescription products mean that retail pharmacy is vulnerable to a slowdown in Big Pharma prescription sales?

Maybe not.

Maybe it’s just the right prescription for fast-forwarding retail pharmacy’s move into consumer-directed health care.

Since drug companies will be launching fewer Lipitors, Levitras and Avandias, they’ll have to find a way to sell more of the safe, effective drugs they already produce.

No one can do this better than retail pharmacy. Retail pharmacy has the ability to reach millions of patients every day and to extend life-enhancing—and life-saving—MTM services to patients with chronic illnesses. No one else has 150,000 highly educated medical professionals trained to deliver pharmaceutical counseling. This, of course, can mean better drug compliance, and better drug compliance means better sales. And, with retail pharmacy and Big Pharma squarely behind e-prescribing, there’s an even greater opportunity to improve compliance and sales.

That’s not all. As drug companies move away from blockbuster drug launches, they will invest more on front-end products, particularly OTC drugs. In this case, who’s going to promote, carry and sell these products?

Make no mistake, retail pharmacy will be the beneficiary of these new efforts among the pharmaceutical companies—which undoubtedly will be supported with millions of promotional dollars. With thousands of stores, millions of shoppers and a small army of pharmacists, techs and nurses, chain pharmacy is perfectly positioned to help sell these new OTCs and reap the rewards of having done so.

In the end, by developing a wider range of efficacious OTCs and new devices, Big Pharma will give retail pharmacy a way to offset the lack of new blockbuster drugs. And, by supporting e-prescribing and developing innovative, practical compliance programs, retail pharmacy and pharmaceutical manufacturers can increase the number of scripts filled.

Patients get healthier, drug companies find new ways to improve their business and retail pharmacy makes both possible—not bad.

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