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Superdrug credits EHC and chicken pox jabs for funding cuts survival

A generic emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) pill and private chicken pox vaccinations have helped Superdrug survive the funding cuts in England, it has told C+D.

Superdrug posted profits of £72.8 million for 2017 – an 8.2% increase on the previous year, the group said in its financial report published last week (July 3).

There was “strong growth across [its] pharmacy portfolio”, including 40% year-on-year growth for its online doctor service – which dispenses products directly to patients or to Superdrug pharmacies to collect in store – and 14% growth across its NHS services – which include the new medicine service and medicines use reviews, Superdrug told C+D.

Superdrug’s private services, including travel vaccinations, also saw 45% year-on-year growth in 2017, the multiple added.

Pharmacy "firsts"

Superdrug’s profit growth comes at the same time that Lloydspharmacy’s parent company blamed the funding cuts in England and a drop in prescription volume for a fall in its income in the UK.

This followed Boots’ latest financial report, in which it attributed its own 2.8% drop in sales in pharmacies on fewer prescriptions and cuts to funding.

Superdrug said its "robust and proven strategy" of investing in high street stores and its online services, as well as "leading the market by introducing 'firsts'", has helped it avoid the impact of the funding cuts in England.

In 2017, Superdrug was the “first major high street health retailer to introduce a generic EHC” pill and it “led the market” by introducing a private chicken pox vaccination service for children and adults not covered by the NHS scheme, it claimed.

Last month, Boots followed suit by also offering a private chicken pox vaccine for the same price of £65 per jab.

Smoking cessation and expansion plans

Superdrug's healthcare and wellbeing division saw an 8% growth compared with the previous year, supported by “strong performances” in smoking cessation and vitamins, Superdrug said in its financial report.

The company – which owns over 200 pharmacies across the UK – celebrated its 25th pharmacy anniversary in 2017 and launched an online repeat prescription service to mark the occasion.

Superdrug said it will continue to invest in its pharmacy services by “expanding the amount of health clinics” across the UK in 2019.

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