Empowering consumers, patients and pharmacists
By Jason Smith
• Government action on drug pricing has had unintended consequences for community pharmacies and healthcare
• Avricore Health’s offering helps pharmacists grow revenues, enhance role in customer care
• HealthTabTM allows quick access to health biomarkers, personalized genomic information
The Government of Canada’s recent actions to take costs out of the health care system have landed squarely on Canada’s community pharmacies.
In Canadian politics, reducing drug prices is something almost all parties can agree on. It’s a real vote-getter of a promise amongst the high turnout senior demographic, but has this led to unintended consequences?
According to a November 2018 survey by the Canadian Pharmacist Association, 25 per cent of Canadians have either directly or indirectly experienced a drug shortage, leading to a majority of Canadians concerned about the situation. Results also showed that in the result of a shortage, almost 80 per cent of consumers look to and trust their local pharmacist to make alternative recommendations.
However, this margin pressure on community pharmacies threatens their financial viability, opening the possibility of closures that would further reduce access to health care options. To buck the trend, pharmacies need to expand their offering and enhance their role in consumers’ health care decisions.
“HealthTabTM helps make better choices regarding preventative medicine. We’re putting the power in the hands of the consumer.” — Bob Rai, President & CEO, Avricore Health Inc.
Avricore’s HealthTab system empowers consumers
Avricore Health Inc. (TSX.V: AVCR) focuses on helping pharmacies increase pharmacy counter revenues by expanding their offering to consumers.
The company formerly operated as VancPharm, a maker and distributor of generic drugs, but the recent changes to generic drug policies have caused it to pivot into accessible genomics and targeted health information.
Key to this effort is the company’s HealthTabTM platform, which supports a variety of testing and genetic data options. With a simple finger prick, consumers can receive a personalized blood chemistry analysis in approximately 12 minutes. This analysis measures 21 key markers of chronic disease, and once a patient knows whether or not they have a disease, they can take better control of their health and take action to seek treatment.
Avricore President and CEO Bob Rai comments, “By empowering users with onsite health information, HealthTabTM helps them make better choices regarding preventative medicine. We’re putting the power in the hands of the consumer.”
The company is currently piloting the HealthTabTM technology at nine pharmacies across Canada. Early results have been encouraging, with consumers who used the technology receiving actionable information on a variety of conditions, including kidney disease.
Educating consumers about cannabis use and dietary recommendations
HealthTabTM puts individualized consumer health data in pharmacists’ hands, allowing them to be well-equipped advisors for those with health inquiries.
And it’s not just biomarker data. Avricore has recently signed letters of intent to bring in cannabis-use information from Molecular You and customized dietary recommendations from FoodRocket.
Molecular You has created a proprietary cannabis test that analyzes the genes associated with cannabis’ active ingredients. It gives pharmacists information about consumer sensitivity to THC and CBD, as well as cannabis’ potential interaction with prescription medications.
Rai elaborates, “If you are taking medication, cannabis usage, depending on the THC levels, can affect those medications. Within the HealthTabTM platform, we’re targeting DNA based on cannabis.” Avricore plans to launch its Molecular You program, offered through HealthTabTM, this April.
Meanwhile, the agreement with FoodRocket will allow the product to deliver nutrigenomics-based dietary recommendations. Its “DNA to Diet and Fitness System” helps customers tailor their diet and supplement intake to their genetic makeup. Pharmacists can then discuss these diet options with patients and combined with HealthTabTM, give pharmacists the ability to make targeted recommendations at the point-of-sale. “Pharmacists have always been coaches,” says Rai. “Technology is a way to give pharmacists a way to take an advisory role.”
Online product offers e-learning — an online store for pharmacists
Avricore will empower pharmacists with an innovative e-learning and e-commerce platform.
The legalization of recreational cannabis use has increased customer inquiries at the pharmacist counter about cannabis choices and drug interactions. In 2018, Avricore acquired the Ontario pharmacist developed Corozon Platform. Based on the platform’s success with reaching pharmacists, Avricore will soon re-launch a refocused online tool with cannabis e-learning modules that help pharmacists get informed about cannabis at their own pace. This will, in turn, educate them on the proper information that they can later convey to patients.
This platform also comes with an e-commerce feature that allows pharmacists to order products that they learn about on the platform. Based on an upfront and ongoing subscription model, that platform can also convert to a white-label product.
“Consumers are becoming used to discussing their medical and recreational use with their pharmacist,” Rai notes. “We’re here to empower pharmacists on the educational side as well as the revenue side.”
Endocannabinoid — iron supplement distribution
In addition to its pharmacogenomic and product education technologies, Avricore has an agreement with Emerald Health Therapeutics to distribute that company’s line of endocannabinoid nutraceuticals.
Emerald Health’s product line gives pharmacists an additional potential source of revenue and consumers access to a variety of CBD-based supplements. Avricore also hopes to eventually sell Emerald’s cannabis products to pharmacies, if and when pharmacies are allowed to sell medicinal cannabis.
Moreover, one of Avricore’s other products is the HemaFerTM iron supplement. HemaFerTM is tackling the $50 million iron supplement market with the most potent heme iron product available in Canada. Sales were steady for the product in 2018, with almost 350,000 bottles sold. Due to this success, the company is ramping up its sales operation in Canada with a 44-person sales team.
In addition to empowering consumers and industry with better technology and data, Avricore is revamping its business strategy to “own the counter” and help community pharmacists stay relevant and profitable in the current environment. With a strong portfolio of promising technologies, the company is on its way to becoming a health innovator at the forefront of science.