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Pharmacist engagement a top priority for new OTC company


Pharmacist engagement a top priority for new OTC company

Tess Player of Haleon

Haleon, the OTC medicines company emerging as an offshoot of GSK this year, will make it a priority to engage with UK pharmacists, its global HCP lead has said.

Speaking to Pharmacy Network News in March, Tess Player said that Haleon – which will “fully demerge” from GSK’s biosciences division in the middle of 2022 – sees pharmacists as “such a priority for us to partner with”.

The new company will carry over the current GSK suite of OTC lines, which will retain their current branding but will carry a Haleon logo in place of the GSK one. Customers will “get total reassurance that the products are the same,” said Ms Player.

Regarding Haleon's future portfolio plans, there are a few potential POM to OTC switches earmarked “but in terms of divestment and portfolio shaping to put us into this position that has all been done already”.

This is the first OTC/biosciences demerger of its kind to take place, although competitors such as J&J have similar plans in the near future.

Resilience training 

Previous efforts to engage pharmacists have “historically been through the lens of the brands but we want to go even further than this,” she said citing as an example Haleon’s work with the organisation Grit to offer resilience training to pharmacists.

This will be followed up by a “real world evidence workplace study next year to see what else we can do to provide tangible support,” she said. 

She also referred to the growing role of community pharmacists, particularly during the pandemic. “We know people already self-medicate, but more than ever those people are now going to pharmacists as their first port of call,” she said, pointing to research carried out by GSK. 

“We really see an opportunity for pharmacists being elevated – but at the same time we recognise that they’re overstretched… the admin burden is high.”


Ms Player said Haleon is partnering with the Economist Intelligence Unit and UCL economists to create a ‘health inclusivity index,’ adding that academics have “already identified” a role for pharmacists in tackling care inequalities.

Other work includes its Clean Breathing institute, “which is some work we’ve done in partnership with the International Federation of Pharmacists (FIP)”.

Player described “the gap between knowing there is an impact of pollution on respiratory health and broader systemic health, and pharmacists not being equipped to handle the questions from people in their communities”. 

She cited this as “an example of where we’re trying to go beyond simply offering product information on the website”.

Inclusivity and sustainability are key drivers, she said: “You can’t have healthy people without a healthy planet.”

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