Editor’s Note: What’s in store?

DSN editor in chief Nigel Maynard discusses how major demographic shifts will change the way retail pharmacies do business.
Nigel F. Maynard
Editorial Director

Distilled to its essence, the pharmacy was a place to fill prescriptions. But then the role of the pharmacy/pharmacist evolved. According to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, by the early 17th century, Western society had created its first pharmacist guild, and those apothecaries played a central role as healthcare providers.

“Two centuries later in the United States, apothecaries became known as pharmacists, thanks to Edward Parrish of the American Pharmaceutical Association, as it was then known. Within those bounds, pharmacists made and prescribed medicines into the 1950s as respected community medical providers,” Texas Tech writes.

The 1951 Durham-Humphrey Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 altered the role of the pharmacist. Now restricted to recommending over-the-counter medications, they began to focus more on dispensing prescriptions and ensuring product safety, Texas Tech said.

Still a place to fill prescriptions, pharmacies today are becoming healthcare destinations that also offer a wide variety of services, such as flu shots and other vaccines, mental health support and wellness services. At some outlets, there is a built-in efficiency where consumers can fill a prescription, shop for groceries and then pick up their medication in 30 minutes to an hour.

Retail pharmacy is changing yet again, in part due to the pandemic but also because of shifting consumer preferences. In the last year, more consumers stayed home, many put off doctors’ appointments, some ordered medications online and others had bigger concerns than a flu shot.

The industry must find new ways to reverse the trends and increase customer visits. A good place to start is with demographic. They provide a possible road map for the future.

Six years ago, McKesson’s Health Mart Pharmacy released a report saying that in 2030, huge shifts will further impact the industry: millennials, who are more comfortable with online services, will outnumber baby boomers, 78 million to 56 million; boomers will be entering a new phase, and they will be focused on wellness and maintaining good health; women in their 20s through 40s will make up an important buying demographic, spending nearly $1,200 a year on beauty and hair products; and Hispanics and Latinos will be more likely than other groups to seek care from a clinic in a pharmacy or retail store.

Each community will be different, Health Mart said, so it’s important to know the current trends in your market and among your customers, and how the makeup will allow you to adapt your products, services and marketing “to improve your business success now and in the future.”

2030 is right around the corner, but perhaps it’s time to start thinking about these things now.  

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