This year has marked milestones for many businesses, not just across Ireland but across Europe. As the waves of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to ebb away, new opportunities and those which had previously been put on the backburner are arising.
This is especially true for Théa Pharma, who are embracing the potential of the future.
Théa Pharma is renowned as being the Number 1 ophthalmology brand in Ireland; an innovative company solely dedicated to developing high-quality products that support ophthalmic care and eye health across Ireland.
We spoke with Country Manager Diarmuid Gavin to learn more about the exciting developments in the pipeline for this industry leader.
2022 has already been a special year for the company. “In many ways, it is the year we have all been waiting for,” Diarmuid tells us.
“Driving Innovation, Education and Professionalism in improving Eye Health has been our motto from day one. This year Théa Pharma Ireland has become a reality moving from a joint venture to a full subsidiary of Théa global, allowing us to offer our customers and patients the full Théa experience.
“Our brand-new, state of the art offices located in Castlebar, Co Mayo offer us the opportunity to invest further in Ireland while staying closer to the increasing wants and needs of customers and patients for improved eye care and a better quality of life.”
By developing treatments, providing information and sharing knowledge with specialists around the world, Théa Pharma enable everyone to keep their eyes wide open. Théa specialise in preservative-free treatment.
What led the company to their leading ranking? Diarmuid explains, “Théa possesses 150 years of knowledge and expertise in ophthalmology. We are 100% dedicated to eye health and world leaders in 100% preservative free eye care solutions.
“The key to Théa’s growth is a combination of scientific, technical, regulatory and commercial expertise, unique in the world of Ophthalmology. The Chibret family own and run Théa, they pride themselves on reinvesting in discovering future innovations.
Road Mapping for Pharmacists
“Over the last few years we have placed a strong emphasis on OTC. We provide Pharmacies with a full scope of trade and digital marketing offerings, merchandising and emerchandising, a clear roadmap for Pharmacists to increase profitability while enjoying high margins, as well as working together to provide expert Eye Care advise and raising awareness on the importance of Eye Health.
“And I want to thank wholeheartedly all Pharmacists throughout Ireland for helping us raise awareness on the importance of eye care. The Eyes are the windows to our soul and body. Let’s take good care of them!”
Much like the rest of the industry, the team behind Théa were not without their challenges when it comes to the pandemic, presenting the company with one of their largest hurdles to date. But as Diarmuid points out, ensuring their team and their customers are kept at the heart of everything has driven morale and resilience.
So what sets Théa apart from their competitors?
Diarmuid says the answer to this is four-fold. “Firstly, our products are 100% preservative free which means they wont damage or irritate the eyes. Secondly, our products are clinically tested and proven to treat various symptoms of eye care conditions. For example for Dry Eyes, which is a rapidly growing market, we offer Thealoz Duo eye drops which are Europe’s number one dry eye drop, 100% preservative free and clinically proven to treat symptoms of dry, stingy, tired eyes. In Blepharitis we have Ireland’s No 1 daily eyelid cleanser Blephaclean which is 100% preservative free and clinically proven to treat symptoms of eyelid inflammation.
“Furthermore, each product offering allows the Pharmacist to enjoy high levels of margin and profitability, and lastly, because we are 100% dedicated to eye health, our product portfolio is extensive and covers all eye care needs including Dry Eyes, Glaucoma, Eyelid inflammation, Blepharitis, Eye nutrition, Infection and Allergy.”
“Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has been, above all, about people,” he reflects. “From all the people working in the healthcare sector, who have willingly put themselves in harm’s way, to the people who have kept essential services running, we owe them all a tremendous thanks – today more than ever. The Covid-19 pandemic has gone through phases, each of which is characterised by a different set of needs and requirements that have impacted all businesses.
“What it did for us, was to force us to respond to, cope with, and look beyond the crisis. People are the first line of resilience for the workforce during a crisis. From the very first moment we stayed close to our people ensuring they have all they needed, strengthening the ‘work from home’ experience with much needed fun that kept morale at a high level.
“We provided guidance on alternative ways of working while protecting productivity, performance, and safety for each work location. We adopted our work environment to be more agile, flexible, and clear open communication gave our team reassurance and short-term direction.”
It can be true to say that the pandemic also forced the hand of many businesses into the digital era.
Diarmuid adds, “Furthermore, we accelerated the digitalisation of our internal, customer and supply chain interactions and their internal operations by three or four years. Once ‘nice to have,’ digital capabilities are now a ‘must have’ to build resilience for a sustainable future ahead.
“While we can put 2021 under the theme ‘new normal’ we are now in a transition phase toward the “next normal.” We learn as we go and can build on this experience to be prepared for future disruptions. Perhaps most important is long-term adaptability and resilience. We will undoubtedly face new challenges caused by geopolitical events, climate change, health crises, energy crisis and the like. Companies must be able to actively manage continuous change and adapt to new circumstances.”
The Ophthalmology Market Value
The ophthalmology market and its value to pharmacy has been steadily increasing over the last number of years but more recently it has visibly accelerated.
Diarmuid adds, “The pandemic accelerated rapidly the growth that was already occurring the previous years. In 2019, 1 out of 5 adults suffered from dry eyes. Within just 3 years we saw a dramatic increase and as of 2022 dry eye sufferers account for 1 out of 2 of the general population which means almost half of the population are suffering from dry, tired, itchy, stingy eyes.
“Eight out of 10 dry eye sufferers experience symptoms of blepharitis. Google search for eye health keywords increased by a staggering +1,078% during the pandemic. The increase in screen time use, the Mask Associated Dry Eye symptoms (MADE), our environment, air conditioning, menopause, poor tear quality and ageing are some of the contributing factors for this new, harsh reality.”
According to IQVIA’s Ireland General Manager, Gwynne Morley, the OTC market is recovering faster than expected following the impact of Covid-19. Is this sentiment true for eye care we asked Diarmuid.
“It is. The eye care market is increasing significantly and will continue to do so in the years to come. Based on IQVIA data over the last 5 years the Dry eye market has increased by +37%. Between 2016-2021 the eyelid market increased by +62%. 1 out of 5 people is allergic and more than 60% of them have eye related allergy symptoms. Studies show that younger people are also affected more and more by dry eyes.”
Opportunities for Pharmacy
Diarmuid is keen to highlight the upcoming opportunities and potential within ophthalmology for community pharmacists here, and explains more about how he and his team will be supporting the profession in embracing these.
“Eyecare is the second most valuable and important product category based on total value within the Irish Pharmacy, just behind skincare,” he notes.
“The market is growing rapidly and Pharmacists need to be aware of the increasing needs for eye health that more and more people and families around Ireland have. Education is the key. Preservative free products are the present and future in ophthalmology. As the number 1 Group in Eye Care in Europe and world leader in 100% preservative free products, Théa Pharma continues to stay ahead and complete its range of eye care solutions to satisfy the full needs of all Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Pharmacists and Patients.
“Already in 2022 we have launched 4 new pioneering and innovative eye health products that cover a wide range of eye care needs from eyelid warming and cleansing to evaporative dry eye solutions and leading products for dry eyes caused by allergies.”
The eye care market continues to show significant growth, how can community pharmacists make the most of this segment in reaching customers? Diarmuid concludes by stating,
“I would urge all pharmacy teams to consider this. How much space and time have you dedicated to eyecare?”
“Community pharmacists play a crucial and significant role in promoting the right eye care solutions for their patients. We brush our teeth morning and evening and yet we rarely take care of our eyes unless we have a problem; You can replace a tooth but not an eye.
“Quality plays a huge role when proposing an eye care product. Is the solution 100% preservative free? Is it clinically proven and tested?
“Our products are indicated to battle and treat various serious eye symptoms such as dry eyes and blepharitis. Most importantly, we ensure high margins and profitability as well as full online and offline marketing support including merchandising to ensure the right shelf space for the eye care category. We have a full Pharmacy team that regularly visit Pharmacies around Ireland as well as dedicated Medical, Surgical and GP teams for dedicated visits to Ophthalmologists, GPs and Hospitals. Education is the key and we offer numerous webinars and training. We are fully dedicated to eye care therefore we guarantee high quality products with high margins and an expert team to help and train Pharmacy teams around Ireland to deliver the best advice and care for patients.”