Pharmacy in a showcase: A push for professional advertising


What if the national and state pharmacy organizations combined to get their message out? And what if they linked that message to a series of national and international events?

Oluwole WilliamsAs the battle for provider status continues, it may be time for our profession to turn to a public presentation of its goals. Pharmacy as a profession is a rich subject area for creative advertising, and opportunities exist for a favorable representation of pharmacists as healthcare providers. What if the political action committees of national organizations such as APhA, NACP, and ASHP, and those of the state pharmacists’ associations jointly sponsored a communications initiative conducted in the mass media? And what if the profession’s public profile were developed in the context of showcase events? I predict that numerous stakeholders would benefit.

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Money-makers attract

Major players in the U.S. pharmacy industry have earnings potential that could attract significant foreign capital into the national economy through an effective and clever communications campaign. An active marketing initiative could tap into limitless opportunities for the promotion of U.S. pharmacy-related resources, such as manpower, intellectual property, raw materials, and technology.

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According to the American Hotels & Lodging Association (AHLA), in 2012 alone hospitality industry revenues amounted to $155.5 billion, with a pretax generated income of $39 billion. The public services offered by pharmacy and those of the hospitality industry are not mutually exclusive; indeed, both industries developed from the historical role of caregiving. It is not out of place, for example, to situate pharmacies in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and national parks for purposes of professional visibility and extended consumer access to pharmaceutical care.

Pharmacy and hospitality services could establish complementary and mutually beneficial economic connections in relation to such areas of interest as pharmacy education, pharmaceutical journalism and health sciences publishing, pharmaceuticals export promotions, trade expos for biologicals and surgical equipment, a global pharmacy students’ rally, exhibition of U.S.-made nutritional and herbal supplements, and international pharmacy practice conferences.

Mutually beneficial events

If carefully implemented in series every three years, for instance, such events could provide significant business exposure for various aspects of the profession of pharmacy, as well as for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry and its global partners, and also would increase the financial gains of other, ancillary local entrepreneurs. Consider:

An international conference of deans of pharmacy, held every three years in the United States and supported through sponsorship, which could yield a valuable global perspective on the future of the pharmacy curriculum

A world meeting of science editors and pharmacy/health literature publishers, held a few days after the deans’ meeting, which could bring more industry resources to bear upon the results of the deans’ conference

An international exhibition and trade expo of pharmaceutical technology and drug products, targeting foreign clients and representatives of governments, held in tandem with the gatherings suggested above

A pharmacy students’ world conference, aimed at bringing together student leaders and exposing them to new inventions and trends in pharmacy, even as they share their own national experiences


It pays to advertise

In 2013 IHS-Global Insight produced a report for the Advertising Coalition showing that in 2012, advertising supported 21.2 million of the 136.2 million U.S. jobs. The study demonstrated that in 16 industries, the governments of each state, and the District of Columbia, advertising had a direct quantifiable economic impact on total sales and employment in the period studied.

With a global income that projects to be $550 billion for the travel and tourism industry during 2015–2016, the U.S. pharmaceutical sector could benefit through creative use of the growth and economic potentials available in the hospitality market.

For instance, offering a public positioning statement such as “Pharmacists care” or an equivalent sponsored professional message such as “Pharmacists are healthcare providers” is good professional housekeeping that could be accomplished very effectively through strategic marketing during a world conference of pharmacists in Washington, D.C.

 Today and for posterity we need a campaign of deliberate, concerted, attractive advertising to help us achieve our current goals, increase our earnings, and provide us with potent economic opportunities of the future.

Oluwole Williamspractices pharmacy in Pennsylvania. Contact him at

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