A "Natural" for Pharmacists

Published in July of 1998 in the Pharmacy Post, a trade magazine for food & drug Canada.

pharmacy post

Conference: Natural Therapeutics Symposium

TORONTO- Hundreds of pharmacists and natural health product retailers mingled at the first annual Natural Therapeutics Symposium in late May.

The two-day conference and trade show was organized by Natural Health Products Report; a trade publication for natural health retailers, manufacturers and practitioners.

Speakers from Germany, France, Australia and the U.S. Presented the latest research on a wide variety of products, including garlic, St. John's Wort, glucosamine and quail eggs. Attendees could also ask a panel of experts to discuss the potential contraindications of herbal medicines.

Forty-three exhibitors were at the trade show, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Homeocan, Jamieson Laboratories, Swiss Herbal and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Also featured was Nature's Apothecary, a retail concept targeted at pharmacy owners.

Natures Apothecary is "a wellness centre that can be dropped into a pharmacy" says Yvette Cutrara, co-founder of Simply Consulting, a Toronto based firm, incorporated by Vito Pirri.

The set-up includes a customized mix of shelving, lighting, sound and products. Pharmacists can also purchase Health Notes online, an interactive kiosk for customers and / or pharmacist education.

The process begins with some research into the demographics of a pharmacy's customer base and a look at existing competitors. That information, along with the budget and space available for the products, helps determine the right square footage and product mix for a given pharmacy.

The Nature's Apothecary 'boutique' includes a wide range of products with 'natural appeal' from cereals and snack foods to cleaning products, feminine hygiene products, cosmetics and, of course, herbal, and homeopathic medicines.

The ideal size for a wellness center is 200 to 300 square feet, says Pirri. "That's enough space to be able to market a little bit of everything".

But even 100 square feet is enough to for a start: "Although a 100 square feet, I might decide, for example, that we don't have space to carry enough homeopathy, so we might eliminate that category."

The Health Notes online touch-screen provides information on herbals, vitamins and homeopathy. Now in Canada, the system is in use in 600 U.S. pharmacies and Cutrara claims that in pharmacies with a kiosk, sales of natural products have increased by between15% to 40%. "So it's a sales tool as well as an educational tool."

Other elements of Nature's Apothecary include a dispensary system tie-in that flags opportunities for pharmacists to recommend herbals, vitamins and other products. For example, a birth control prescription may signal a reminder to suggest a vitamin C supplement for the patient.

Cutrara can also recommend the best distributors and manufacturers of products, based on reputation, price and discounts available to pharmacists.


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