Tess Player
Tess Player

With its soon-to-be launched global consumer healthcare venture, Haleon, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) aims to deliver the single minded purpose of providing “better everyday health with humanity”, says Tess Player, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s global head of expert and influencer marketing.

The whole purpose is to make health more achievable, sustainable, and inclusive, and to tackle some of the health inequalities with better collaboration with community pharmacies, she said.

On February 22, the pharmaceutical major announced that its new consumer healthcare venture with Pfizer will be called Haleon, confirming the business will be spun off in mid-2022.

GSK is on track to demerge its consumer healthcare business this year and to list the new company on the London Stock Exchange, the company said last month.

The creation of Haleon follows a series of investments and strategic changes to GSK’s consumer health business over the last eight years, including integrations of the consumer product portfolios from Novartis and Pfizer.

With the inception of Haleon “we will be one of the first dedicated consumer healthcare companies, and will be one of the largest,” Player said.

She highlighted the timing of the new venture is very important as a research conducted by the group in 2020 revealed that about 80 per cent of people accept the responsibility for managing their own health.

This has been partly prompted by messages from the government during the Covid-19 pandemic, which encouraged people to indulge in self-care and also led to a shift in funding from treatment to prevention.

Besides indulging in self-care, people also realised the importance of community pharmacies during the pandemic.

Player said: “Almost half of the population are looking to consult their pharmacists more often than they were pre pandemic. That means, for us there’s a real opportunity to engage with champions – the role of pharmacists, dentists and their associated teams – in terms of being key catalysts for greater self-care to be realised and great health outcomes to be realised.”

She added that this shift in people behavior would last as there are several other factors which are working alongside this change.

“The consumer research that we have done, does indicate that these behavioral changes will last.”

The change is “more of a reality than just the consumer commitment to it and patient commitment to it because it came at a time when already the government’s healthcare systems were buckling.”

Community Pharmacy
Phot: iStock

Partnering with pharmacists

Pharmacists are not only critical for the group to achieve its goal of ‘better everyday health with humanity’, but also for the entire healthcare sector to help achieve greater health outcomes and public health benefits, she added.

Based on this understanding, Haleon aims to have a reciprocal partnership with healthcare professionals in communities to be able to break down the barriers that they face and ensure better self-care for patients and customers.

These barriers include patients’ access to proper information, their capability of understanding the preventive measures to avoid further illness or have a better self-care.

The other set of barriers that run on pharmacists include administrative burden, their own education and knowledge as well as recognition of their roles in a wider multidisciplinary healthcare system.

To overcome these barriers, the company stands committed to offer resources and help “healthcare professionals to persuade consumers to take better care of themselves and get more involved in their health,” Player said.

“As part of Haleon and as part of that partnership promise, we will pioneer new ways to bring everyday help to underserved sections of society and that may again just be really tangible.”

“As the one of the world’s leading, dedicated and focused consumer healthcare companies, it is really vital to understand and deliver the supporting resources that healthcare professionals will need to be able to improve everyday health and in their grassroots roles.”

The target is to empower millions of people a year, to be more included in opportunities for better everyday health as “we made the commitment to reach 50 million people a year by 2025.”

The health inclusivity index

In partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit and leading academics at University College London, the company is developing a health inclusivity index, which would be equivalent to the Edelman Trust Barometer to address health inequality.

“We are doing in depth research at the moment to understand what are the key drivers of health inequality, and we’ll then launch the index and then that index will be available for all.”

The index, which is expected to be launched later this year, will help identify how those determinants of health inequality shift over time, so that programs can be put in place to address such gaps, she added.

This would facilitate meaningful dialogue with key stakeholder groups, who share an interest in improving health inclusivity, particularly policymakers, healthcare providers, external experts, and investors, as well as the media, consumers and customers.

“We didn’t want to just keep this at high ground level, and want to make sure that it really cascades down with the results made available,” she added.

The results will provide insights to help identify opportunities for partnerships and wider coalitions of action in the medium to longer term to measurably improve health inclusivity.

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