Powering Up Pharmacies:
How the High Street hubs can help futureproof the NHS
Alderley Park, UK – 4 May 2021
During this past year, we have all been impacted in different ways by the devastation caused by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has faced challenges both personally and professionally and we have been forced to focus on our health and that of our families, loved ones and friends like never before.
Looking after ourselves better and finding new ways to access healthcare have also been necessary. The NHS has been stretched beyond anything it has faced in its history and we have all played our part in doing what we can to stay healthy, seek help elsewhere when possible and do what we can to reduce the burden on our frontline healthcare workers as they tirelessly care for those worst affected by the virus.
I have spent more than 30 years working as a pharmacist and in the pharmaceutical industry. My first pharmacy job was in a High Street chemist where I grew up on The Wirral. There, I saw first-hand how central the local pharmacy is to the community in which it operates. It is a vital hub which provides a lifeline for so many people. And with the rise in recent years in the number of pharmacies now operating in many of our supermarkets, the pharmacist is more accessible and convenient than ever before, opening up broad access to a range of medicines and services to anyone who needs them, easily and quickly. Yet despite this, I believe they remain a massively untapped healthcare resource.
Breaking down barriers by broadening access
We know the NHS is on the brink following decades of underfunding. A growing ageing population and increasing numbers of people with long-term, chronic health conditions – sometimes multiple – means demand for healthcare is soaring. The pandemic has only further highlighted how on a knife-edge the whole service is. There is no doubt that drastic changes will need to be made if it is to survive.
Access to care is one of the biggest barriers faced by patients. The number of GPs is falling and people are having to wait longer to get an appointment. According to the BMA, between February 2019 and January 2020, 54.1 million patients waited over two weeks for an appointment, compared to 47.6 million in the 2018/19 period.
Pharmacists are highly trained and, I believe, well-positioned to help the NHS manage chronic disease right now, but they are currently vastly underutilised and could further support the NHS by improving how and where patients access high-quality, cost-effective and convenient care. A huge part of this is broadening the scope of what medicines pharmacists are able to dispense to people to help them better take care of their own health to ease demand on over-stretched GP and frontline services.
That is why I set up Maxwellia – the world’s only company dedicated and purpose-built to help boost the power of the pharmacy by “switching” prescription-only medicines to ones which are available for the general public to buy over the counter. Since 1991 when the MHRA began its list of Approved Reclassifications, just 74 medicines have been switched from being prescription-only to being available in-pharmacy.
I believe there are hundreds of proven, safe and effective medicines which can be transformed to versions which can be bought in a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. This would ease pressure on GP appointments and enable more people to self-treat conditions that don’t require a complex diagnosis or long-term monitoring.
Medicines, mindset and method – the holistic next-generation of personal healthcare
Innovation is what a future-focused NHS needs and over the past eight years, we have pioneered our unique Dynamic Switch™ process which enables multiple switches to be delivered repeatedly at low cost with a greater chance of success. With three switch applications already being assessed by the MHRA, we are building a pipeline of new consumer healthcare brands that will become the next generation of over-the-counter medicines.
But this isn’t just about medicines. It’s also about mindset and method too. We know that many of the chronic health conditions which blight the lives of millions of people aren’t going to be solved simply by popping a pill. We are dedicated to helping people help themselves with the appropriate healthcare support to enable them to live the life they want to lead. Although often not life-threatening, many conditions – ranging from minor to more serious chronic ones – can have a major impact on the ability of sufferers to live a full and active life.
Our aim is to not just provide the medicines which will help manage or cure the condition, but also the practical support necessary for people to overcome them. So, as well as making treatments available over-the-counter, we have created a range of apps, websites, emails and videos to guide people to self-help. We only advocate support exercises, counselling and treatments that have a track record of getting results for people.
We have firmly established a solid sales, logistics and supply chain with industry-leading partners to successfully launch our game-changing new brands into pharmacy. Switching medicines from prescription-only to over-the-counter is a highly regulated and rigorous process overseen by the MHRA. It is the gold standard for innovation across the global over-the-counter industry where each switch project is unique, intricate and requires precise engineering in order to succeed. Previous well-known examples of switches of course include Nurofen®, Canesten® and Viagra Connect®.*
And I believe these are just the beginning. We are living in an increasingly convenience-led world. How we access medicines and how we are empowered and enabled to take better care of our own health has to change to keep up. Giving greater power to pharmacists will bring the ability to better self-care to people’s doorsteps which I believe will not only help future-proof our overstretched NHS, but will also make huge inroads in tackling the major burden of public health conditions more quickly and effectively.
* Trademarks mentioned belong to third parties
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Notes to Editors:
Switching (also termed reclassification) is a rigorous regulatory process facilitating the safe supply of medicines under the supervision of a pharmacist. It is the gold standard for innovation across the global OTC (over the counter) industry where each switch project is unique, intricate and requires precise engineering in order to succeed. Noticing the shortage of exciting OTC innovation, registered pharmacist, founder and CEO Anna Maxwell set up a dedicated operation with a stellar team to build a pipeline of self care innovation that addresses this market challenge.
Founded in 2013, Maxwellia is a female founded, British pharma company and the world’s only company completely dedicated to “switching” – prescription-only medicines into versions that can be bought over the counter in a pharmacy. Switching is a rigorous regulatory process enabling pharmacists to safely supply what were previously prescription-only medicines. Maxwellia is developing and commercialising the next-generation of consumer healthcare pharmacy brands treating a range of conditions in major public health categories. It aims to provide people with new ways to conveniently look after themselves by making widely used and effective medicines available over the counter at the pharmacy.