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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : February 2005
eye care Useful links ‘Conditions like glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness with no pain, and no early symptoms.’ Visual appeal Bruce Annabel, Johnston Rorke partner in charge of pharmacy services, said that eye care was a section most pharmacists took for granted. ‘Despite its significant profitability, it’s usually not given more than five to five- and-a-half linear metres of shelf space,’ he said. ‘So sales aren’t all that strong. ‘I strongly recommend that pharmacies increase the size of their allocation to eye care. People give something like 30 linear metres of space to categories like gifts, which aren’t a health focus, and which don’t provide anything like the returns you can get on eye care. And eye care continues to be ignored!’ According to data provided by Advanced Medical Optics (AMO), the contact lens care products market alone is worth about $20 million in Australia. ‘The eye care section should be posi- tioned close to the dispensary or sched- uled counter, as it’s an area where you should want to encourage a high level of customer service,’ Mr Lucas said. ‘Scheduled products are, of course, behind the counter, as specified by Queensland’s legislation. ‘We really try to push back on the man- ufacturers for a good deal on the high turnover items, so that we can sell them at better prices. We drop the retail price and have a bit better margin, so we’re able to beat the optometrist significantly on price, which drives business into our eye care department.’ Kelley Mirabello, marketing manager, Visioncare and Pharmaceuticals at Bausch and Lomb, said pharmacy was a destina- tion channel for eye care customers, and needed to take advantage of this status. ‘Contact lens care products are repeat purchase items. Once a person starts wearing contact lenses, every month or so they need to buy more cleansing solution. ‘A category that’s well merchandised will keep that customer coming back, cre- ating loyalty to your pharmacy. Optometrists Association Australia: www.optometrists.asn.au American Academy of Ophthalmology: www.aao.org International Centre for Eye Health: www.iceh.org.uk Vision 2020: www.v2020.org World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness and Deafness website: www.who.int/pbd ‘Contact lens customers are well cus- tomers, mainly aged between about 18 and 35, who are concerned about their appearance. ‘These are good customers for a phar- macy to have, as they provide opportuni- ties for more sales. It’s very important to keep them.’ However, the contact lens demo- graphic may be about to shift slightly, Ms Mirabello said, with the recent introduc- tion of multifocal lenses, which she said were now the fastest-growing lens cate- gory. ‘These lenses, treating vision problems which are mostly associated with older people aged 45 and above, will help ensure that we can maintain and hope- fully increase the number of wearers in the marketplace.’ She said a pharmacy which aims to be successful in eye care should have the con- tact lens care and over-the-counter eye drops stocked together, to create one comprehensive eye care category. ‘There’s still a reasonable number of pharmacies that separate them, despite the fact that together, they have much more visual appeal. ‘Queensland and Western Australia have issues regarding the display of phar- macy-only medicines, but in states where you can stock S2s in reach of the cus- tomer, it’s best to make the most of the synergies between the two sections. ‘Contact lens care in particular is pro- motion-sensitive, so ensure that pack pro- motions are well stocked and merchan- dised. This has a positive impact on sales. ‘Pharmacy is a destination channel for 104 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 FEBRUARY 2005 contact lens care, so bins located at entry points, especially containing contact lens solution, can do a lot to drive extra foot traffic into your pharmacy.’ Promotional opportunities This year, there will be several promo- tional opportunities for pharmacists to take advantage of, including education cam- paigns for consumers and professionals. ‘In Victoria, optometrists will be work- ing with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and Vision 2020 Australia on a series of continuing education events over 2005, concentrating on eye care,’ said Mr Harris. ‘Hopefully, we will be able to give phar- macists useful information about issues like diabetes and anterior eye conditions, that married with the pharmacists’ prod- uct knowledge, will ensure better patient care. ‘There are also a lot of resources around that pharmacists can access. For example, our website, www.vicoptom.asn.au, has about 30 PowerPoint presentations on common eye conditions that give a decent overview.’ Campaigns targeted at consumers are also expected to provoke customer inter- est in eye health early this year. ‘Vision 2020 Australia will be running a campaign in Victoria in March, urging people to have their eyes tested,’ Mr Har- ris said. ‘This campaign is funded by the Victorian Government.’ Safe Under the Sun is a national pro- motion running this summer aimed at educating consumers about the risk of UV exposure to the eyes. Research shows that Australians who spend even moderate time in the summer sun without appropriate eye protection are twice as likely to develop serious vision complications in later life. The total direct and indirect cost of UV exposure-related eye disease, such as macular degeneration and cataracts, is up to $2.25 billion, including the cost of loss of earnings, carers and vision aids. The Optometrists’ Association will also be running a children’s vision campaign late in 2005. s