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January 22, 2021 05:00am
By Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor
A recent review addresses the dual role pharmacies play as health care and prescription medication providers and beverage and food retailers.
The drug store business has evolved from just dispensing prescriptions. Many pharmacies now host retail health clinics that provide basic primary care services and pharmacists now immunizations, too.
Retail settings also sell junk food, sugary drinks, tobacco products, and alcohol. Annual alcoholic beverages and soft drinks sales at drug stores has skyrocketed, reaching approximately $3.9 billion in 2017. Selling these products replete with empty calories in a health care setting, like selling cigarettes, is counterintuitive.
A recent review published in theHealth Marketing Quarterlyaddress the dual role pharmacies play as health care and prescription medication providers and beverage and food retailers. The authors also propose opportunities for change and policy-making to improve the retail drug chain food environment.
Most Americans live within a 5-mile radius of a retail drug store. Retail drug stores also serve numerous underserved and low-income communities with high rates of diet-related chronic diseases and childhood obesity. Obesity is linked to several chronic conditions: hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
Robust prescription drug sales increase the opportunities to market and sell unhealthy food and sugary drinks to this population. Availability of healthy food choices, counseling from all of the pharmacy’s health care personnel, medication therapy management, immunizations, health-related information, and promotion and presence of retail health clinics can serve as positive cues toward better health outcomes.
The authors propose 5 measures to limit the exposure to unhealthy food choices in a retail setting
Cara Wilking, Mark A. Gottlieb & Nathaniel Rickles (2019): The role of chain pharmacies to promote healthy food retail: Current trends, legal limits, and policy opportunities, Health Marketing Quarterly, DOI: 10.1080/07359683.2019.1575058