s Is Pharmacy the Final Frontier for Supermarkets? | I2P: Information to Pharmacists - Archive
Publication Date 01/07/2014         Volume. 6 No. 6   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the July 2014 homepage edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) E-Magazine.
At the commencement of 2014 i2P focused on the need for the entire profession of pharmacy and its associated industry supports to undergo a renewal and regeneration.
We are now half-way through this year and it is quite apparent that pharmacy leaders do not yet have a cohesive and clear sense of direction.
Maybe the new initiative by Woolworths to deliver clinical service through young pharmacists and nurses may sharpen their focus.
If not, community pharmacy can look forward to losing a substantial and profitable market share of the clinical services market.
Who would you blame when that happens?
But I have to admit there is some effort, even though the results are but meagre.
In this edition of i2P we focus on the need for research about community pharmacy, the lack of activity from practicing pharmacists and when some research is delivered, a disconnect appears in its interpretation and implementation.

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Newsflash Updates for July 2014

Newsflash Updates

Regular weekly updates that supplement the regular monthly homepage edition of i2P. 
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Feature Contribution

Woolworths Pharmacy - Getting One Stage Closer

Neil Johnston

It started with “tablet” computers deployed on shelves inside the retailer Coles, specifically to provide information to consumers relating to pain management and the sale of strong analgesics.
This development was reported in i2P under the title Coles Pharmacy Expansion and the Arid PGA Landscape”
In that article we reported that qualified information was a missing link that had come out of Coles market research as the reason to why it had not succeeded in dominating the pain market.
Of course, Woolworths was working on the same problem at the same time and had come up with a better solution - real people with good information.

Comments: 5

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Intensive Exposition without crossing over with a supermarket

Fiona Sartoretto Verna AIAPP

Editor's Note: The understanding of a pharmacy's presentation through the research that goes into the design of fixtures and fittings that highlight displays, is a never-ending component of pharmacy marketing.
Over the past decade, Australian pharmacy shop presentations have fallen behind in standards of excellence.
It does not take rocket science - you just have to open your eyes.
Recently, our two major supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles, have entered into the field of drug and condition information provision - right into the heartland of Australian Pharmacy.

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The sure way to drive business away

Gerald Quigley

I attended the Pregnancy, Baby and Children’s Expo in Brisbane recently.
What an eye and ear opening event that was!
Young Mums, mature Mums, partners of all ages, grandparents and friends……...many asking about health issues and seeking reassurances that they were doing the right thing.

Comments: 1

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‘Marketing Based Medicine’ – how bad is it?

Baz Bardoe

It should be the scandal of the century.
It potentially affects the health of almost everyone.
Healthcare providers and consumers alike should be up in arms. But apart from coverage in a few credible news sources the problem of ‘Marketing Based Medicine,’ as psychiatrist Dr Peter Parry terms it, hasn’t as yet generated the kind of universal outrage one might expect.

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Community Pharmacy Research - Are You Involved?

Mark Coleman

Government funding is always scarce and restricted.
If you are ever going to be a recipient of government funds you will need to fortify any application with evidence.
From a government perspective, this minimises risk.
I must admit that while I see evidence of research projects being managed by the PGA, I rarely see community pharmacists individually and actively engaged in the type of research that would further their own aims and objectives (and survival).

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Organisational Amnesia and the Lack of a Curator Inhibits Cultural Progress

Neil Johnston

Most of us leave a tremendous impact on pharmacies we work for (as proprietors, managers, contractors or employees)—in ways we’re not even aware of.
But organisational memories are often all too short, and without a central way to record that impact and capture the knowledge and individual contributions, they become lost to time.
It is ironic that technology has provided us with phenomenal tools for communication and connection, but much of it has also sped up our work lives and made knowledge and memory at work much more ephemeral.

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Academics on the payroll: the advertising you don't see

Staff Writer

This article was first published in The Conversation and was written by Wendy Lipworth, University of Sydney and Ian Kerridge, University of Sydney
In the endless drive to get people’s attention, advertising is going ‘native’, creeping in to places formerly reserved for editorial content. In this Native Advertising series we find out what it looks like, if readers can tell the difference, and more importantly, whether they care.
i2P has republished the article as it supports our own independent and ongoing investigations on how drug companies are involved in marketing-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine.

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I’ve been thinking about admitting wrong.

Mark Neuenschwander

Editor's Note: This is an early article by Mark Neuenschwander we have republished after the soul-searching surrounding a recent Australian dispensing error involving methotrexate.
Hmm. There’s more than one way you could take that, huh? Like Someday when I get around to it (I’m not sure) I may admit that I was wrong about something. Actually, I’ve been thinking about the concept of admitting wrong. So don’t get your hopes up. No juicy confessions this month except that I wish it were easier for me to admit when I have been wrong or made a mistake.
Brian Goldman, an ER physician from Toronto, is host of the award-winning White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio and slated to deliver the keynote at The unSUMMIT for Bedside Barcoding in Anaheim this May. His TED lecture, entitled, “Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about it?” had already been viewed by 386,072 others before I watched it last week.

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Dispensing errors – a ripple effect of damage

Kay Dunkley - BPharm, Grad Dip Hosp Pharm, Grad Dip Health Admin, MPS, MSHPA

Most readers will be aware of recent publicity relating to dispensing errors and in particular to deaths caused by methotrexate being incorrectly packed in dose administration aids.
The Pharmacy Board of Australia (PBA), in its Communique of 13 June 2014, described a methotrexate packing error leading to the death of a patient and noted “extra vigilance is required to be exercised by pharmacists with these drugs”.
This same case was reported by A Current Affair (ACA) in its program on Friday 20 June

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Take a vacation from your vocation

Harvey Mackay

Have you ever had one of those days when all you could think was, “Gosh, do I need a vacation.”
Of course you have – because all work and no play aren’t good for anyone.
A vacation doesn’t have to be two weeks on a tropical island, or even a long weekend at the beach. 
A vacation just means taking a break from your everyday activities. 
A change of pace. 
It doesn’t matter where.
Everyone needs a vacation to rejuvenate mentally and physically. 
But did you also know that you can help boost our economy by taking some days off? 
Call it your personal stimulus package.

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Explainer: what is peer review?

Staff Writer

This article was first published in the Conversation. It caught our eye because "peer review" it is one of the standards for evidence-based medicines that has also been corrupted by global pharma.
The article is republished by i2P as part of its ongoing investigation into scientific fraud and was writtenby Andre Spicer, City University London and Thomas Roulet, University of Oxford
We’ve all heard the phrase “peer review” as giving credence to research and scholarly papers, but what does it actually mean?
How does it work?
Peer review is one of the gold standards of science. It’s a process where scientists (“peers”) evaluate the quality of other scientists' work. By doing this, they aim to ensure the work is rigorous, coherent, uses past research and adds to what we already knew.
Most scientific journals, conferences and grant applications have some sort of peer review system. In most cases it is “double blind” peer review. This means evaluators do not know the author(s), and the author(s) do not know the identity of the evaluators.
The intention behind this system is to ensure evaluation is not biased.
The more prestigious the journal, conference, or grant, the more demanding will be the review process, and the more likely the rejection. This prestige is why these papers tend to be more read and more cited.

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Dentists from the dark side?

Loretta Marron OAM BSc

While dining out with an elderly friend, I noticed that he kept his false tooth plate in his shirt pocket. He had recently had seven amalgam-filled teeth removed, because he believed that their toxins were making him sick; but his new plate was uncomfortable. He had been treated by an 'holistic dentist'. Claiming to offer a "safe and healthier alternative" to conventional dentistry, are they committed to our overall health and wellbeing or are they promoting unjustified fear, unnecessarily extracting teeth and wasting our money?

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Planning for Profit in 2015 – Your key to Business Success

Chris Foster

We are now entering a new financial year and it’s a great time to reflect on last year and highlight those things that went well and those that may have impacted negatively in the pursuit of your goals.
It's also a great to spend some time re-evaluating your personal and business short, medium and long term goals in the light of events over the last year.
The achievement of your goals will in many cases be dependent on setting and aspiring to specific financial targets. It's important that recognise that many of your personal goals will require you to generate sufficient business profits to fund those aspirations

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ReWalk™ Personal Exoskeleton System Cleared by FDA for Home Use

Staff Writer

Exoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk, the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance via clinical studies and extensive performance testing for personal use, is now available throughout the United States.

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Attracting and Retaining Great People

Barry Urquhart

Welcome to the new financial year in Australia.
For many in business the past year has been described as a challenging period.
Adjectives are a key feature of the English language.  In the business lexicon their use can be, and often is evocative and stimulate creative images.  But they can also contribute to inexact, emotional perceptions.
Throughout the financial pages of newspapers and business magazines adjectives abound.
References to “hot” money draw attention and comment.  The recent wave of funds from Chinese investors, keen to remove their wealth from the jurisdiction and control of government regulations is creating a potential property bubble in Australia.

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Updating Your Values - Extending Your Culture

Neil Johnston

Pharmacy culture is dormant.
Being comprised of values, unless each value is continually addressed, updated or deleted, entire organisations can stagnate (or entire professions such as the pharmacy profession).
Good values offer a strong sense of security, knowing that if you operate within the boundaries of your values, you will succeed in your endeavours.

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Evidence-based medicine is broken. Why we need data and technology to fix it

Staff Writer

The following article is reprinted from The Conversation and forms up part of our library collection on evidence-based medicines.
At i2P we also believe that the current model of evidence is so fractured it will never be able to be repaired.
All that can happen is that health professionals should independently test and verify through their own investigations what evidence exists to prescribe a medicine of any potency.
Health professionals that have patients (such as pharmacists) are ideally placed to observe and record the efficacy for medicines.
All else should confine their criticisms to their evidence of the actual evidence published.
If there are holes in it then share that evidence with the rest of the world.
Otherwise, do not be in such a hurry to criticise professions that have good experience and judgement to make a good choice on behalf of their patients, simply because good evidence has not caught up with reality.

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Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One

Staff Writer

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, July 25, 2014
Laropiprant is the Bad One; Niacin is/was/will always be the Good One
by W. Todd Penberthy, PhD

(OMNS July 25, 2014) Niacin has been used for over 60 years in tens of thousands of patients with tremendously favorable therapeutic benefit (Carlson 2005).
In the first-person NY Times best seller, "8 Weeks to a Cure for Cholesterol," the author describes his journey from being a walking heart attack time bomb to a becoming a healthy individual.
He hails high-dose niacin as the one treatment that did more to correct his poor lipid profile than any other (Kowalski 2001).

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Culture Drive & Pharmacy Renewal

Neil Johnston

Deep within all of us we have a core set of values and beliefs that create the standards of behaviour that we align with when we set a particular direction in life.
Directions may change many times over a lifetime, but with life experiences and maturity values may increase in number or gain greater depth.
All of this is embraced under one word – “culture”.
When a business is born it will only develop if it has a sound culture, and the values that comprise that culture are initially inherent in the business founder.
A sound business culture equates to a successful business and that success is often expressed in the term “goodwill” which can be eventually translated to a dollar value.

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ReWalk™ Personal Exoskeleton System Cleared by FDA for Home Use

Staff Writer

Exoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.
ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand upright and walk.
ReWalk, the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance via clinical studies and extensive performance testing for personal use, is now available throughout the United States.

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Pharmacy 2014 - Pharmacy Management Conference

Neil Johnston

The brave new world of health and wellness is not the enemy of Pharmacy, it is its champion.
Australian futurist, Morris Miselowski, one of the world's leading business visionaries, will present the Opening Keynote address on Pharmacy's Future in the new Health and Wellness Landscape at 2.00pm on Wednesday July 30.
Morris believes the key to better health care could already be in your pocket, with doctors soon set to prescribe iPhone apps, instead of pills.
Technology will revolutionise the health industry - a paradigm shift from healthcare to personal wellness.
Health and wellness applications on smartphones are already big news, and are dramatically changing the way we manage our personal health and everyday wellness.

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Generation and Application of Community Pharmacy Research

Neil Johnston

Editor’s Note: We have had a number of articles in this issue relating to pharmacy research.
The PGA has conducted a number of research initiatives over the years, including one recently reported in Pharmacy News that resulted from an analysis of the QCPP Patient Questionnaire.
Pharmacy Guild president, George Tambassis, appears to have authored the article following, and there also appears to be a disconnect between the survey report and its target audience illustrated by one of the respondent comments published.
I have asked Mark Coleman to follow through, elaborate and comment:

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Is Pharmacy the Final Frontier for Supermarkets?

Staff Researcher

articles by this author...

Editing and Researching news and stories about Australian and International Pharmacy Issues

Researcher's Note:
Gary Mortimer was formerly Retail Operations Manager, Coles Group - Shell Alliance (Fuel & Convenience) from 2008 to 2010.
Given that he has had insider experience within a division of one of the major retailers, he gives a clear perspective on the contemporary thinking of major retailers.
It appears that the current strategy to "capture" pharmacy is to increase product range and surround it with health services such as optical.
This, in preparation for the final storming of the barricades set for the year 2015.
Globally, supermarkets captured pharmacy at a very early stage.
In Australia, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has put up a strong resistance to this process.
It would be nice to think that Australia might retain its individuality by standing out from the crowd, leaving pharmacy to set its own destiny.
As Gary Mortimer points out, healthcare is not a commodity.
Currently, Medicare funds a range of pharmacist interventions at a rate that is determined mysteriously (nobody knows the formula). Pharmacists might be well advised to develop this channel of professional reimbursement as a further means of distancing itself from supermarket operations.
It appears that the fight between pharmacy and the supermarkets is set to take another twist in the long running saga.

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Gary Mortimer

Doctor (PhD), School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations at Queensland University of Technology

Gary Mortimer


Dr Gary Mortimer is a lecturer with Queensland University of Technology, Business School. He was previously employed in management and operational roles with some of Australia's largest food and general merchandise retailers. He is an Associate Member of the Australian Marketing Institute.

Dr Mortimer is a frequent commentator on all aspects supermarket and food retailing in Australian media, including The Courier Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, ABC radio, 2UE, 4BC and television programs, such as Sunrise.

A dual citizen of Australia and the UK. Dr Mortimer was born in Britian and raised in Adelaide and Brisbane. He holds a B.Com (Hons) from the Griffith University. He earned his PhD also from Griffith University in Brisbane.

Is pharmacy the final frontier for supermarkets?


Pharmacy retailing is the last frontier for large supermarket chains. Flickr

Australia’s two major supermarket retailers, Coles and Woolworths, already have vested interests in fuel, convenience, liquor, hardware, hotels, apparel, general merchandise and technology. While they continue to battle each other for a share of the household food shopping dollar, pharmacy appears the final opportunity to grow their business.

Yet, due to current legislative restrictions, Australian supermarkets are unable to follow global retail models like, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s (UK), Walmart, Publix, Wegman’s (US) or French retailer, Carrefour, all of which have pharmacies inside most of their stores.

Prior to 2000, under the stewardship of Roger Corbett, Woolworths lobbied strongly for the opportunity to branch into pharmacy retailing. The 1999 Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the retail sector recommended supermarkets should not expand into providing pharmacy services.

The committee noted that the role community pharmacists played in public health was unique and that the expansion by supermarkets into the dispensing of pharmaceutical products should be discouraged. The committee considered Australia’s system of community pharmacy to be one of the best in the world and hence, should not be changed.

In November 2005, then Health Minister Tony Abbott, advised that any push from supermarkets, to allow pharmacies to operate within their sites would be blocked – a ban Woolworths had been fighting to overturn. In 2007 current Health Minister, Nicola Roxon denied claims by online news outlet Crikey that Labor had agreements with Woolworths to allow the retailer to operative pharmacies or dispensaries in their supermarkets. The current fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement supported a continuation of inhibiting pharmacy co-location within supermarkets.

It is evident that supermarkets are still very interested in aligning with global retail trends and providing pharmaceutical services in their stores. With the current agreement in place until mid-2015, it is expected we will once again observe strong lobbying from both retailers.

Pharmacy appears as the last opportunity for the supermarket giants to jump on. They already have vested interests in liquor, fuel, hardware, technology, clothing, stationery, insurance, financial services and are actively moving into health. Big W’s move into optometry is a case in point. As a result, supermarkets have engaged significant market research to improve and grow this category. Australian shoppers today would already be seeing new aisle layouts, point-of-sale and signage implemented to make it easier for shoppers to select medicinal products.

Time for another look?

Is it time to re-evaluate at these restrictions on supermarkets? Would the inclusion of pharmacy consulting rooms in supermarkets provide the community a viable, affordable and more sustainable network of pharmacy dispensing services?

US supermarket retailers Giant, Publix Supermarkets, Stop n’ Shop and Wegman’s were the first to announce a program offering generic versions of various antibiotics free of charge for patients with prescriptions. They said, “We hope this program will offer added convenience and value to our customers during these challenging economic times.”

Would adopting a global retail operations framework, improve flexibility to respond to the community need for pharmacy services?

Consider US food retailers, Wegman’s or Giant, that offer consulting rooms, service counters, drive through windows and automated telephone services that allow customers to order prescriptions around the clock. Or, UK retailers Sainsbury’s and Asda, that offer online ordering of prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, automated dispensaries and virtual kiosks to remotely communicate with pharmacists.

So would pharmacy services, enveloped within supermarkets, improve local access for rural and remote regions and communities?

With a network of over 2000 supermarkets across Australia and extensive logistics and supply chain capabilities, could these retailers offer remote communities access to health education and benefits that urban dwellers take for granted. Could economies of scale reduce supply chain costs, leading to cheaper medicines for such communities and reduce pharmaceutical costs to governments? Such legitimate questions are worth asking.

Could our supermarkets alleviate the pressure on GPs, medical centres and hospital waiting rooms, by adopting a UK/US model? In Australia, from July 1, 2012, pharmacists will be able to re-issue regularly prescribed medicines, such as birth control, blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications. This will mean patients will not need to keep going back to GP to get repeat prescriptions. Will such a move present an opportunity for supermarkets?

Although considered a controversial idea, could we see suitably trained nurses or pharmacy assistants operating in supermarket consulting rooms, offering diabetes blood tests, inoculations, travel vaccinations, dietary advice and general health checks, such a blood pressure tests. In UK supermarket Asda offers £7 flu shots. Would such a move reduce waiting times in medical centres and hospitals and provide doctors, nurses and other medical professionals more time to treat the seriously ill?

Further, could such private enterprise provide funds for capital projects at a much larger scale ever seen, removing this cost from governments and indirectly all Australian tax payers?

A precautionary note

It is important to recognise that community pharmacy plays an important role in the Australian healthcare system. There are approximately 5000 pharmacy-owned community pharmacists in Australia, employing over 12,000 university-qualified pharmacists and approximately 30,000 trained pharmacy assistants.

A recent Pharmacy Guild of Australia survey found that 62% of surveyed Australians sought information about medicines or the treatment of a minor illness from a community pharmacist in the past year.

Further research has also discovered that quality advice, fully trained pharmacy assistants and trust is the single most important competitive advantage pharmacy has to offer.

The atomised interaction with a supermarket checkout operator will not be – and is not suggested to be – a suitable alternative for the continuing personal relationship of care, patients share with their pharmacist, or doctor. I would suggest the Australia consumer would never accept such an ideal.

Importantly, healthcare is not a commodity. It cannot be bought and sold like a can of baked beans or a bottle of milk. Choice among different brands is problematic enough for customers shopping for consumer goods and services. Unlike low involvement goods, when purchasing over the counter medicines, the customers demand for quality advice and trust is vitally important.

When the consumer is ill, what matters most is the relationship of trust that can enable them to negotiate the imbalance of knowledge and expertise in their encounters with pharmacists and doctors. Unless a carefully considered model is developed, we will never see pharmacies in supermarkets.

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

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