Prevention as a cure – “Farmacia news” 07/2006

Prevention as a Cure
Article published in “Farmacia news”n°7/2006

At the start of the 1980’s, Dr Marco Bacchini and Dr Maria Bacchini starting working in the family pharmacy, which has been open by their father Dr Giannantonio Bacchini in 1978. After becoming the owners in 1997, they moved into a larger and completely renovated shop in 2002 as well as taking on more staff.

Dr Bacchini surrounded by his staff

Dr Bacchini what are your pharmacies core values?

Professionalism and innovation are our core values which explain our business’ dynamism and constantgrowth ever since its foundation. In our local area, we were the first to introduce computers into the pharmacy and we have been developing our pharmacy into a sort of local health care centre where the local community can get advice about all their health problems. When we refurbished are pharmacy in 2002, only 9 years after the last refit, we wanted to redesign the pharmacy’s layout and the services on offer in order to reinforce this image. I think the future is very bright for pharmacies who develop along similar lines.

Can you give us some more details, beginning with the layout?

“The pharmacy has 2 floors, each 110 sq. m. By creating a basement, we were able to give over both floors entirely to services and product display. We installed robot-operated stock rooms and dispensary in order to  improve our customer service, allowing us to dedicate more time to our clients rather than searching for medicines. The layout of the retail floor is a bit like a market place that is surrounded by various “shops” specialised in herbal medicines, homeopathy, dermocosmetics, OTC medicines, babycare products etc etc. The lower floor has a spaces dedicated to nutrition, which my sister is in charge of and is rapidly growing due to the growth of gluten and other food allergies. There is also an area or services and testing which all the necessary equipment. Each sector tends to be manned by personnel who are specialised in that discipline, even if everyone of us is able to give advice about all of the products on sale in the pharmacy. Our dispensary and laboratory is can be seen by the public and we strong believe in the traditional role of the pharmacist as well as taking advantage of the most modern and advanced equipment available. In fact out logo communicates the meeting of traditional with innovation very effectively, as it is composed of a pestle and some modern graphics.”

Images of the pharmacy

How did you define your product range?

“Well, the range of products on offer in our pharmacy is chosen according to their quality and how specialised they are. For example, we have built up some close partnerships with companies that products products for the complementary medicine sector ensuring a supply of  highly specialised and quality products that are relevant for our customers.

We also have own brand products in every sector which have been produced in our own on-site laboratory. Preparing medicines and remedies is a defining aspect of the professional pharmacist and we have a huge demand for dermatological and paediatric products as we are near to Verona’s hospital. Furthermore, I think it is important for pharmacist to have their own brand products as a way of distinguishing themselves and nurturing customer loyalty. In the 1990’s, we even started making our own cosmetics!

What services do you offer?

“We provide traditional services such as measuring blood pressure and testing for high cholesterol, diabetes etc as well as renting our self-testing equipment. We also carry out ECG tests too. In our “wellness” are, skin and hair check ups are carried out by a pharmacist who is specialised in dermocosmetics and works at the University of Ferrara. Customers can get advice about skin conditions, hair loss etc etc.

In 2002, we created our own website ( where you kind find lots of information about about our pharmacy and its services as well as information about health issues (such as advice on dealing with seasonal and common illnesses). The site is kept up to date and is very interactive, allowing our customers to communicate their needs to us and ask for more information about medicines and health problems in general.

Opening up a constructive dialogue with the local community is essential and we are involved in health education and illness prevention.”

What are you doing to help raise awareness and prevent illnesses?

“For a couple of years we have set up a weekly meeting focused on a particular health issue, either seasonal or general, such as high cholesterol or diabetes. Before every meeting we distribute a information pamphlet written by myself and the team with advice on each topic. We also talk about which products are effective in dealing with that particular condition and carry out free tests (for example, testing for high cholesterol). The range of topics we have dealt with includes winter illnesses, cellulite, legs, herbal teas and mosquitoes. Once a month, we also invite a doctor to come and speak about a chosen health topic too.

We are very active in the local community, going around schools to talk about health issues such as how to play safely in the sun. Every year we set up a stall in front the pharmacy to raise awareness about health problems linked to the sun and UV rays.

Customers really appreciate such campaigns and they really start to trust in us. Events like these also strengthen our pharmacy’s professional image making us into a real point of reference for the whole neighbourhood. When someone has a problem, we are the first people they turn to for advice. Moreover, we have been able to leverage our customer’s trust in us for good causes, such as raising over €20,000 that was used to hire another doctor for the oncology ward at a local hospital improve the treatment of children with leukaemia.

And the future?

Using all the latest technology and most innovative means at our disposal to ensure the survival of the traditional role and values of the pharmacist and bring them forward into the future. Professionalism, preparing medicines, service, dialogue, trust, and a personal relationship with the client are all traditional values that have a very important role to play in the future. Even if the products on offer change, the approach must remain rooted in tradition, as it is the only way we can differentiate ourselves from supermarkets.

We must combat the culture of consumerism by allying with clinics, hospitals and doctors, both private and public to become important points of reference in our local communities. Another way to ensure our future is to produce own brand products in our own laboratories which reinforces our professional image and spreads it throughout the local area. In short, we must try to create a virtuous circle whereby products and services combine to strengthen our business and our reputation and spread it far and wide.

Giovanni Bernuzzi