Speculation had been rife for months but Alliance has finally announced that it will be entering Northern Ireland as a full line distributor on 1 August.

Alliance Healthcare finally laid all of the rumours to rest this week by announcing that it will enter the province as a full line distributor of pharmaceutical, medical and healthcare products.

The company has had a presence in Northern Ireland for almost ten years having been awarded distribution of Pfizer products in 2007 and, as a result, establishing a strategic partnership with local wholesaler, United Drug Sangers. This partnership flourished over the years and was only brought to a conclusion by Sangers’ purchase by global pharmaceutical wholesaler, McKesson, part of their €407.5 million acquisition.

The increased competition and choice is great news for the NI economy in general and NI community pharmacy in particular.

Alliance Healthcare has already established a service centre in Belfast, employing local people – probably around 100 in total –great news for the province’s employment figures.

Our primary aim is to build relationships with NI pharmacies,’ says Steve Paul, Client Services Director at Alliance Healthcare ‘to do this we have to integrate our company and our services into the local scene and so, to do this, we intend to create an indigenous enterprise.

We firmly believe in the concept of competition being of primary importance to the customer. By entering NI we have increased the number of distributors from two to three, and this has been positively received by pharmacists. We intend to speak to local pharmacists on a one-to-one basis to find out exactly what they’re looking for and to hear their ideas about what is required in the NI market.

While we wish to introduce fresh and innovative ideas to the market, we do, of course, have an obligation to existing service contracts, and so, from the outset, we will be consolidating the business that we have here – putting patient safety at the heart of our service of course – and simultaneously introducing innovative measures and practices. There will be a period of assessing what we can bring to the market to attract pharmacists to come to us.’

PiF looks forward to how the arrival of Alliance Healthcare will impact NI’s community pharmacy. We will continue to report on how the company implements its plans for the province’s community pharmacy, and how it forms new strategic partnerships, not this time with a local distributor, but with our pharmacies themselves.

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