Experts Task Community Pharmacists on Business Survival

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-As Ikeja ACPN holds Business Summit 2024

L-R: Pharm. Seye Agboola, managing director, Dortemag Pharmaceuticals; Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh, chairman, HCPAN, Lagos State; Pharm. Imade Roy-Ekekwe, coordinator, ACPN, Ikeja Zone; Pharm. Sidi Rufai, treasurer, and Pharm. Tolulope Ajayi, keynote speaker, at the ACPN, Ikeja Zone Business Summit 2024.

 

Eminent pharmacists and entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical industry have charged community pharmacists to operate with sound business principles in order to survive the harsh economic realities in the country, while exploring technology for information gathering towards enhancing business opportunities and economic growth.

The drug experts, including Pharm. Tolulope Ajayi, chief executive officer, Shekinah Specialties Limited, and Pharm. Gabriel Okoli, chief commercial officer of Synlab Nigeria, spoke at the Annual Pharmaceutical Business Summit of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Ikeja Zone, held recently at the Conference and Exhibition Centre of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

They remarked that by nature and training, pharmacists are entrepreneurial and committed multipliers of resources. In his keynote speech at the Business Summit with the theme, “Plan and manage for sustainable growth”, Pharm. Ajayi, a former branch business development manager with the United Bank for Africa (UBA), noted that to ensure sustainability and growth, a community pharmacist must structure the business for growth, run with the future or destination in mind and ensure to document.

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“He or she should strengthen controls to eliminate or minimize leakages- If the Titanic could sink, without functional and effective controls, any business would. Grow laterally, increase footfall, and expand channels. Partnerships are important as well as alternative channels among others. Grow vertically- deepen relationships, and grow transaction volumes. Like the Chinese Bamboo Tree, keep building capacity– leadership and workforce,” he advised.

He noted further that efficient and effective community engagement is key to accomplishing the objectives of the business, saying a successful community practitioner should be able to connect and engage with the people of his or her community, and must be involved in a series of corporate social responsibility, adding that pharmacy is not just a professional service alone, but there is business side of it.

While urging the community pharmacists to leverage technology as a vital tool and strategic approach for scaling up their businesses, Ajayi, further urged them to identify their pharmacy's unique strengths and leverage them to stand out in the market, adding that the correlation between motivated teams and enhanced customer satisfaction, is a cornerstone for sustained success.

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In his lecture at the summit, Pharm. Okoli, who was a guest speaker explained that the main purpose of the summit was to help members of the zone grow successful pharmaceutical businesses, and also the need for a paradigm shift to a more practical approach in the business world, adding that there is need for community pharmacists to rewrite their narrative and thrive against all odds.

According to him, the community pharmacists in the country operate in a very turbulent environment, which is pregnant with the post-2023 elections issues, uncertainties, businesses not eager to make a huge investment, mass exodus of businesses from the country, security challenges, infrastructural challenges, unstable naira, rise in the interest rate and inflation, steady decline in GDP, shrinking middle class, assaults from big brands, and many others, emphasizing the need for resilience as a cornerstone for success.
He urged retail pharmacists to embrace change, seek innovative solutions, and view diversification not just as a strategy but as a mindset for sustained success.

Speaking earlier, Pharm. Imade Roy-Ekekwe, zonal coordinator, ACPN, Ikeja, described the summit which was the first by the zone as laudable, saying the topic was not only apt but also timely as community pharmacists in the zone are expected to be freed from all forms of financial restraints, improve their businesses, and move with the trend.

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She continued, first of all, we as pharmacists, are also businessmen and women, so we know that as professionals, we have the practice, and we also have the business part of the profession, but we are very in-depth when it comes to the practice, we know our onions but when it comes to the business aspects, I see that there's a little issue, so we need to do more work in that area.

Speaking on the skyrocketing prices of drugs in the country, she noted that it is wrong to point fingers at the community pharmacists adding that the challenge is not limited to the pharmaceuticals. “The consumers interface with us, so they pour all their grievances, concerns and complaints on us, but the truth is it is not only the pharmaceuticals, it cuts across all sectors and there is nothing we can do about it as professionals,” She said.

 

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