Men and pharmacy: an opportunity waiting to happen?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 |

Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2012 is now underway. The focus this year is on ‘Engaging Men’. This is a very significant initiative because men hugely under-use pharmacy services,  especially for advice and information. The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) reckons that men on average visit a pharmacy four times a year while women go 18 times a year.

There have been local projects – in Birmingham, Portsmouth and Knowsley, for example – that have demonstrated that men will use pharmacy services if they are properly targeted. In Birmingham, cardiovascular risk screening was offered in pharmacies with a particular emphasis on men. Over 1,140 people were screened in 23 pharmacies over 10 months – 60% were male.

In recent years, there has been a focus on reaching men in non-traditional settings – football clubs, workplaces, pubs, etc. This has been, and remains, important work. But it is even more important to change the way ‘mainstream’ services are delivered to men, including general practice, dentistry and, of course, pharmacy. Because pharmacy is the most easily accessible of all primary care services, it is particularly well-placed to make a big difference.

Ask Your Pharmacist Week marks just the start. Pharmacists now need to use the excellent ideas and resources provided by the NPA on a long-term basis. Consultation rooms must be promoted better, the display of stock may need to be changed (to achieve a good balance of ‘male’ and ‘female’ items), ‘MOT’ check-ups should be more widely available, and pharmacists and their staff can take advantage of professional training in men’s health, such as that developed by the CPPE (Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education).

The larger pharmacy chains can also do more to reach men via their web services. Steering men towards reputable sites could also help reduce the worrying and growing trade in dodgy drugs purchased online to treat embarrassing conditions.

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