Pharmacists have always played an important role in self-care education, in addition to providing medication management and direct interventions. It has been significantly intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic and pharmacists have had to face a number of additional challenges in an incredibly tough working environment, with demands only continuing to grow.

Jon Workman, Area General Manager UK & Ireland at GSK, comments: “We recognise the essential role that pharmacists and pharmacy teams play in the healthcare system and we want to support them as best we can. We want to thank pharmacy teams for their hard work and dedication through this challenging time.

“We prioritised medically critical products and restored shelf availability for OTC lines across cough, cold and flu and allergy products to support pharmacist recommendations. We also increased production for pain relief brands such as Panadol and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements such as Emergen-C and Centrum to ensure pharmacy teams can offer their customers a choice of symptomatic and supplement products. Our overall objective was and continues to be maintaining supply of products for consumers and customers, through careful management of stock in the supply chain.

“We expect consumer attitudes and behaviours to significantly shift as a result of the pandemic; the role of self-care will be a huge part of the ‘new normal’. There is greater recognition that pharmacists can help treat a number of minor ailments and we want to encourage the nation to think about them more, by taking greater control of their own self-care.”

Ninety-four per cent of people suffer from headaches, 95 per cent of people suffer from muscle pain and 87 per cent of people suffer from joint pain, and all of these can be treated with products that can be gained from pharmacists without a trip to other healthcare professionals.

“Each year, 18 million appointments are made with GPs for self-treatable conditions, costing the NHS over £2bn,” continues Workman. “We are embarking on a long-term self-care movement, with the aim of sustaining a shift in the behaviours of the nation – getting people to think of their pharmacist first and helping to reduce unnecessary visits to the GP and A&E in the longer term. But we recognise that – whilst this relieves pressure on the NHS – it will of course significantly increase footfall into pharmacies.”

GSK is committed to assist pharmacy teams with its self-care campaign through a number of avenues. This includes offering ‘softer skills’ training, which was trialled in September to help support healthcare professionals in delivering consultations to patients during a time of uncertainty and taking into consideration how to make the most of consultations remotely.

GSK is looking to expand this over the next few months as it kicks off broader self-care activations.

Other avenues of support from GSK to pharmacy include:

  • Change in social media strategy to thoroughly understand the thoughts and feelings of healthcare professionals and allow GSK to tailor the content to ensure it is more meaningful and useful
  • Wholesale promotions and discounts have been maintained and executed as planned to support community pharmacies; supporting local demand for brands. Looking ahead and preparing for any potential signs of a second wave, GSK Consumer Healthcare has already been executing a Cough Cold sell-in campaign to ensure local pharmacies are well-equipped and stocked up in advance
  • Attending an array of customer online conferences to engage with the trade on self-care

The GSK Health Partner Portal is also supporting pharmacy teams, with access to downloadable Covid-19 support toolkits, training and point of sale ordering. The aim is to help pharmacists maximise efficiency as the role of self-care gains momentum.

Merchandising advice

  • Merchandise your oral analgesics range by ingredient (e.g. paracetamol), but ensure that specialist pain products are highlighted, such as migraine
  • Ensure you are using clear POS and signage to educate and help the shopper purchase the right product for them
  • Think about the placement of products in-store, do you have space for a secondary feature to highlight beacon brands across categories including Cold & Flu, Allergy, Oral Care and Pain?
  • Guide customers to “Ask the Pharmacist” if they need stronger products from behind the counter. Use a benner at the self-selection fixture
  • Where customers cannot get a GP appointment, ensure staff are ready to help with healthcare advice for OTC medicines and give Self-Care advice
  • Provide a socially-distanced private space for confidential discussions if the consultation room is not available – the customer will adapt as they need your help
  • GSK representatives have supported independent pharmacy during this tough period. Please call your local rep if you need support/advice from GSK Consumer Healthcare.

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