As the big chain-store discount pharmacies grab at greater market share, traditional community pharmacies are increasingly turning to customised services, such as compounded medication, to tap into new ‘seniors’ markets and professionally differentiate themselves from their ‘cheap and cheerful’ big chemist competitors.
Matthew Bellgrove from National Custom Compounding said in recent years he has seen a marked increase in the number of community pharmacies seeking to contract his services and offer their customers a more specialised level of service.
“A lot of this demand for more specialised services comes from our growing aging population,” Matthew said, “This demographic often has a range of health conditions that require a number of daily medications. A compounding chemist can combine multi-dose prescriptions into a single dose making administration much easier and less prone to complications.
“Compounding pharmacists can also make up medications as liquids or troches which can greatly improve the quality of life for people who have trouble swallowing large pills and tablets.”
Additives in medications such as colours and preservatives, as well as dosage concentrations can also be a big problem for some elderly people with gastro-intestinal problems – a compounding chemist can make up medications without the additives and at the ideal dosage concentration for the individual.
According to the United Nations, the number of people aged 65 years and over in 2017 was 962 million. That seems like a lot, however by 2050, that figure is expected to double. And in Australia people aged 65 and over currently comprise around 15% of the population – by 2050 that percentage is expected to rise to 22%.
“The 65+ demographic across the world is growing and so is demand for people who can cater to the highly specialised needs of this age group,” Matthew said, “Compounding is one of these niche sectors and because it custom-caters to individuals, not the masses, it’s something that can’t be replicated by the huge discount chemist chains.”
Matthew said across the world people are increasingly turning away from cheap one-size-fits-all products and services in favour of quality and individualised care.
We’re seeing it in the ‘slow food’ movement; people are coming back to quality. Especially when it comes to health, they’re realising taking the quick and cheap ‘fast food’ option could cost them dearly in the long run.”
Matthew said the expense of setting up a fully compliant compounding laboratory and undertaking the highly specialised training was prohibitive to most community pharmacies, which was why third-party compounding services like his were increasingly in demand.
“We do all the work in the background and the community pharmacist deals with, and keeps, their customers,” Matthew said, “It’s a business model that we’ve proved over the last ten years works well.”