ISLAMABAD-As large pharmacies are multiplying their profits and catching more customers by adding cash and carry sections, small medicine retailers demand steps to save their earnings.

Muhammad Faizan was travelling to Murree with family, but had to take a break near Barakahu when his younger son Muhammad Hamid complained of cough.

When Faizan went to bring a cough syrup for his son from a pharmacy, his wife Aneela took opportunity and went for some grocery shopping at same pharmacy’s cash and carry section.

“Pharmacies and cash & carry business under a single roof is a facility for customers as they get a number of options and required commodities under a single roof,” said Faizan. He said that when he was purchasing medicine for his son, his wife was busy in doing grocery shopping from the same place which saves his time and money.

“I look for such a place where I can get maximum household items under single roof,” he said. Changing trends in pharmacy business have given a boost to retailers selling medicines in the markets. Addition of grocery items and cosmetics has become valuable addition for them after the mushroom growth of pharmacies and medical stores. Retailers in the medicine business believe that the initial idea of adding a beverages refrigerator is evolving the pharmacy business at better and profitable avenues.

Muhammad Kamran, a pharmacist and a retailer is running Irum Pharmacy for more than two decades. He inherited this business from his father. “Saving good money has become difficult in retailing of medicines,” he said.

Kamran viewed that in last 10 years mushroom growth of pharmacies and medical stores has brought a competition in market giving more and more options to the customers. He said that it was need of time to add more items of daily use for the customers in the pharmacies for survival of the business.

He said that in cities like Islamabad where there is no huge gap in male and female customers, a wise businessman has to understand the psyche of the residents.

He said that female customers mostly prefer the places where they can purchase maximum commodities of domestic use at same place.

“Where it facilitates the customer, the retailer also earns double profit,” he said.

Kamran said that there is also no legal conflict in running two businesses side by side, as for the pharmacy, license is issued while cash & carry is also registered with the local government.

“If Rs100,000 is daily saved from medicine, same amount is saved by selling cash and carry items,” he said.

However, Asif Ali a retailer of medical store believes that huge investments in pharmacy with addition of cash & carry have affected the business of low profit earning retailers. “Customer with strong purchasing power in large cities prefer going to large pharmacies where they get more options also,” he said.

He viewed that it is not only that the profit of the small retailer in medicines has decreased, but retailers running small grocery stores are also suffering.

Asif said there is need of some regulation to protect everyone running a small shop or a large retailing franchise of the medicines.

“I cannot invest more than I already invested but at the same time my earnings are decreasing due to diversion of customers,” he said. Ministry of National Health Services Spokesperson Sajid Shah said that the drugs inspectors have only the authority of checking the quality of the medicines and availability of pharmacist license with the larger pharmacies and medical stores. He said that diversified pharmacies are an international concept where customers get different items from food to medicines.

He said that business community needs to search new avenues for up-gradation of medicine business.