One-year review and outlook from abroad
Find out how the challenges and opportunities of the past year impacted independent pharmacists around the world.
The past year has presented many new challenges and opportunities for community pharmacies across the country, and they have risen to each other with an intrepid commitment to care. As President of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, AmerisourceBergen’s independent community pharmacy network, it has been an honor and privilege to work alongside these local heroes to support their patients and communities at large.
The launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program in February 2021 marked a milestone for the industry. The early inclusion of independent pharmacies in the nationwide immunization rollout has been a critical step that has created wider and more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the United States, particularly in rural and sub-urban areas. funded. To date, Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen have allocated more than 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 1,600 pharmacies. Our data shows that nearly 50% of individuals vaccinated by our network pharmacies live in postal codes with a high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), according to the CDC.
With their value on display like never before, pharmacies also saw opportunities to demonstrate their clinical expertise and capabilities. The need for point-of-care (POC) testing, for example, has been dramatically accelerated by the pandemic. At Good Neighbor Pharmacy, we have helped our customers implement and market these POC programs while providing them with access to state-of-the-art test kits capable of rapidly detecting COVID-19, Influenza A, and Influenza B with a single sample. Going forward, new COVID-19 antiviral pills are expected to be available over the pharmacy counter once they are approved by the FDA, further positioning pharmacies as true healthcare destinations with the ability to test, vaccinate and treat COVID-19 for patients. While this is an incredibly exciting development that will offer hope, especially in the wake of newer COVID-19 variants, we need to make sure pharmacies are set up, from a point of view. legislative view, to be properly reimbursed for their services.
We have certainly seen legislative victories this year: Working with industry partners, Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen have supported the introduction and passage of bills in 10 states that represent progress in enabling pharmacists to ‘exercise at the top of their license. But despite a marked success in 2021, there is still work to be done regarding the reform of direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) and the status of provider. We will continue to advocate for state and federal legislation that allows pharmacists to administer and be reimbursed for all options approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC, including COVID-19 vaccines, tests and therapies. authorized.
Beyond the United States, find out what pharmacies around the world experienced in 2021.
Anders Larsson, Managing Director, Alliance Healthcare Norway
“In general, it has been a difficult year for everyone, and also for us in the pharmaceutical industry in Norway. As a vertically integrated pharmacy and wholesaler, as well as a central part of the Norwegian healthcare system, we encounter concerned patients every day, as well as our own staff who are directly exposed in patient meetings in pharmacies. Using our good control systems, excellent routines, and the fantastic dedication of our staff, we have kept all of our pharmacies open during the pandemic. We have not had any interruptions in our commitments to hospitals. There is no doubt that the importance of pharmacies has again proven to be fundamental to the Norwegian healthcare system.
We have demonstrated our ability to respond quickly to changing patient demand, ensuring that we, as a trusted supplier, deliver COVID-19 related products such as disinfectants, face masks and self-tests. We have had the most resilient supply in the pharmacy channel, and our team has been very responsive to changing demand.
In the coming year, I think we will have to deal with very uncertain conditions. The pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon, and I think government actions are going to take a long time to get used to. As a pharmacy chain, we are one of the most trusted players in the healthcare and retail environment, and we must continue to build on that, being there for the patient when they are. needs our advice and support.
I firmly believe that we can expand the portfolio of health services we offer, such as immunology, skin care and medical advice. In addition, we can work closely with [general practitioners] to ensure that health services and the availability of pharmaceuticals are simplified and easier for the patient to access. Here, there is no doubt that digital development is essential to ensure that we bring our services both in the traditional pharmacy channel as well as in the ePharmacy.
Pavel Jinoch, Country Manager, Alphega Pharmacy Czech Republic:
“While we had hoped that 2021 could be the year of recovery after an unprecedented 2020, another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated otherwise. Social distancing led to a significant drop in sales of the cold & rlu portfolio in the first half of the year. Rising inflation became an economic challenge at the end of 2021, so the primary focus of every pharmacy was simply to keep operations going.
However, despite all the challenges, like lockdowns and other restrictions related to COVI-19, our Alphega members have proven the true meaning of our motto “Close to You”. As predominantly community and rural pharmacies, they have remained fully operational and have become the real first choice of their patients.
The biggest challenge but also the opportunity for our Alphega network in 2022 will be to enter the pharmacy market in the Czech Republic. Over the past 2 years, the drugstore market in the Czech Republic has grown by over 30% every year and currently represents 15% of the total consumer healthcare market. As we believe this growing trend will continue even in the post-COVID-19 era, our key priority for 2022 is to launch an Alphega market platform that will allow all of our Alphega members to reach customers who are looking for the convenience of buying their products online. “
Sophie Rey, Director, Alphega France Pharmacy:
“In France, the health crisis has redefined the role of the pharmacy and, consequently, the missions of the pharmacist. The pharmacy has become the most accessible and the closest to the patient. Indeed, their role as health professionals has accelerated towards new responsibilities. The most striking example is how quickly pharmacists trained their teams and organized staff to perform new tasks like COVID-19 testing and vaccination. In a few months, the pharmacist has become a key player in the fight against COVID-19. At the same time, to save time and develop their services, pharmacists also had to offer digital services to their patients. In response, Alphega Pharmacy quickly adapted its offer to support its member pharmacists in their new functions, by supporting and training pharmacy teams, as well as by providing digital applications such as making appointments. online and teleconsultation.
Today, pharmacists are recognized as key players in health. In 2022, this opens up the prospect of entrusting pharmacists with new missions, whether in prevention, dispensing or patient monitoring. Providing pharmacists with the support they need to help their patients is the very DNA of Alphega Pharmacy and we will be there to help them succeed in these new roles.