Pharmacists lose massive sales by neglecting natural health category

Reproduced courtesy of Pharmacy Today

Michelle Norton mnorton@pharmacytoday.co.nz Tuesday 27 October 2015, 10:23AM

SMI2

Pharmacist Martin Harris won the Supreme Award at the Pharmacy Today/Guild Pharmacy Awards for his work on nutritional health

Pharmacists are doing patients a disservice and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales by not maximising the natural health category, pharmacist Martin Harris says.
The Auckland pharmacy owner presented on nutritional medicine and his own training course at the New Zealand Self Medication Industry (SMI) conference in Auckland on 22 October.
Nutritional medicine is about understanding the metabolic processes involved in health and disease, including the role of enzymes and vitamin and mineral cofactors, Mr Harris explains.
“It is important for pharmacists to be seen as experts in this field and use their knowledge of drug and nutrient interactions,” he says.
But because there is no software to alert pharmacists to these drug-nutrient interactions, pharmacists need the knowledge to provide to patients, Mr Harris says.
Pharmacists should make the most of the natural health category to grow their business, especially at a time when pharmacists are facing financial pressures, he says.
Pharmacists have been the “sleeping giants of healthcare”, spending too much time standing behind the dispensary counter.
But patients often come into the pharmacy with a prescription and say they don’t want to take what the doctor prescribed, Mr Harris says.
He believes this is where pharmacists can step in with information and advice on nutritional medicine.
“It’s a shame to let patients walk out with an unmet health need and the sale that goes with that,” Mr Harris says.
“Pharmacy has got an ethical responsibility to bring this knowledge to patients.”
Mr Harris has experienced a four-fold increase in the natural health category in his two Auckland pharmacies by focussing on nutritional medicine.
He has taught 120 pharmacists and two GPs in his eight-month nutritional medicine course and received positive feedback from the health professionals and patients.
One of his “students” is a pharmacy owner who had an inflammatory bowel disease and was concerned he would have to stop work due to his condition.
Instead, he used his newfound knowledge to help manage his condition and boost the natural health category in his pharmacy.
“There’s no doubt nutrition is the core of health,” Mr Harris says.
“We all know that pharmacists are accessible and trusted, for me, putting the two together is not rocket science [pharmacists and nutritional medicine], it is just common sense.”
Mr Harris won the Supreme Award at this year’s Pharmacy Today/Guild Pharmacy Awards for his nutritional medicine programme.

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