It has been a remarkable journey since Silvanus Bevan from Swansea established the Plough Court pharmacy in London in 1715, the family company that eventually became GlaxoSmithKline. Three hundred years later, following the joint venture between GSK Consumer Healthcare and Novartis OTC, the company Silvanus started is now the world’s largest OTC manufacturer with sales of over £6bn.
GSK Consumer Healthcare is led in the UK by general manager Carlton Lawson and sales director Darren Folker (pictured). According to Folker, the former general manager for Novartis in Benelux, the company has “exciting plans” for its brand portfolio. And he is unequivocal on one point.
“We have a renewed focus on OTC as a result of the joint venture with Novartis and community pharmacy is central to our plans. Understanding consumer behaviour is an important area for us and we want to work with pharmacy to make the shopper experience as positive as possible to boost OTC sales.”
This requires an element of retail discipline on the part of pharmacies, he adds, to reduce customer confusion and create a positive impression, allied to quality advice and recommendation.
The areas of wellness, respiratory and therapeutic oral health will see a lot of activity in the coming months, Folker told Pharmacy Magazine.
“The OTC market is relatively flat but we feel we can work with pharmacy to maximise growth, whether it is through better understanding shopper behaviour, developing new products based on sound science that meet a clear consumer need or revitalising training for pharmacy teams through our MyPharmAssist programme.”
GSK has always had a “fantastic dialogue” with pharmacists but wants to scale this up considerably, he said. “It is about doing what we can with pharmacy to help people do more, feel better and live longer. These are exciting times for us in OTC and hopefully for pharmacy too.”
The OTC market is relatively flat but we feel we can work with pharmacy to maximise growth