Thanks to an injection of funds from private equity firm, Traditum, funds raised are now around the £4 million mark following three earlier funding rounds.
The company plans to further enhance its online platform for independent pharmacies and accelerate its growth in the UK and internationally.
In January, the government and NHS England launched The Pharmacy First scheme intending to give patients quick and accessible care and ease pressure on GP services. Seven common conditions can now be treated at local pharmacies in the first instance.
Internationally the independent pharmacy sector is facing significant challenges, and no more so than the UK. Many pharmacies are unprofitable with eight closing per week across England.
In its research, the company found that according to The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), since 2015 there has been a net loss of 1,055 pharmacies, with this financial year alone seeing a loss of over 300 pharmacies. A recent report commissioned by the National Pharmacy Association warned that up to 3,000 pharmacies are at risk of closure by 2024.
Streamlining UK independent pharmacy operations
Charac says its app, which is integrated with the NHS, streamlines pharmacy operations onto a cloud-native platform specifically designed to relieve time pressure, increase efficiency, and help drive the growth of independent pharmacies. It can also boost the take-up of their services and pharmacists should be able to manage repeat prescriptions, access patient records, create bookings, and conduct consultations via the app.
Santosh Sahu, founder and CEO of Charac, said: “The investment from Traditum is an endorsement of our mission to transform independent pharmacies through digitising the sector. Our goal is ultimately about providing better primary care for communities and enabling healthcare professionals to do so more effectively. With this backing we are positioned to expand our international reach as well as our capabilities to enhance the quality of care our customers can provide to patients.”
The company says it has already signed up 800 pharmacies with 36,000 patients in the UK. This has been achieved through various strategic partnerships, including with leading PMR software provider, Positive Solutions and the National Pharmacy Association. The number of patients using the app is forecast to rise to 100,000 by early 2024 and it is projected to capture around 30% of the UK’s 12,000 pharmacies by 2026.
Charac says it has previously secured significant financial support from key industry players, including ASX-listed MedAdvisor last November, the National Pharmacy Association and pharmacy owners in September 2023, and the Royal Mail in 2022.
Globally, its deal with MedAdvisor enabled Charac to expand its capabilities across Australia/New Zealand and the US, making its app available to a far broader group of pharmacies internationally.
Pharmacy sector lagging far behind other areas of the economy
In the UK, apart from a falloff in government funding, Charac says it is probable the most significant factor behind this backdrop is that the independent pharmacy sector is lagging far behind other areas of the economy regarding digitalization, a feature that is mirrored in other regions across the world. This leaves pharmacists unable to capitalise on the efficiencies that digitisation can deliver and not capable of delivering the broader range of revenue-enhancing services that can boost their profits.
The benefits of repositioning the role of the pharmacy are vast – according to insights from EY, 2.1 million additional primary care appointments could be generated in the UK every week. Also, given the £645 million NHS investment planned for community pharmacy services, the potential for Charac’s further growth is very positive, it says.
The UK the retail pharmacy market is projected to grow from around £21 billion in 2022 to £31 billion by 2030.
Traditum brings together high-net-worth individuals with carefully selected UK companies to offer tax-efficient investment opportunities. Its existing healthtech investments include health and lifestyle coaching platform Added Health, Scotland’s first medicinal cannabis facility Hilltop Leaf and nurse call systems specialist Arquella.
David Mitchell, CEO of Traditum, said: “Independent pharmacies are facing a real challenge. Charac’s technology will help to safeguard their future while at the same time helping them play a more active role in delivering services and relieving pressure on the NHS. This investment is in line with Traditum’s strategy to invest in digital technology to enhance the delivery of primary and secondary care for the benefit of the community and NHS.”