Holistic approach: New Singapore e-pharmacy aims to break the mould with strong supplement focus

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The pharmacists of Glovida-Rx. © Glovida-Rx
The pharmacists of Glovida-Rx. © Glovida-Rx

Related tags e-pharmacy Glovida Singapore

A newly launched e-pharmacy, Glovida-Rx, is on a mission to provide holistic healthcare in Singapore, with pharmacists advising consumers on the use of both health supplements and pharmacy medications.

This is a rare development in Singapore’s pharmacy landscape, where pharmacists overwhelmingly focus on medications.

The e-pharmacy, officially launched on October 9, also aims to provide bespoke service, where it would strive to bring in health supplements or pharmacy medications not available in Singapore upon consumer request.

Same day delivery of the products is also available through the e-pharmacy.

The concept is the brainchild of co-founder and pharmacist Winthrop Wong and his wife Geraldine Lim, also the co-founder of Glovida-Rx.

The purpose of the e-pharmacy is to demonstrate that pharmacists could be the first line of contact for the public when it comes to healthcare.

“It has been our dream to open an e-pharmacy, and this is also to increase the profile of pharmacists, especially in Singapore, and also to educate the public and consumers that pharmacists can be the first line of contact for health-related issues or questions,” ​Wong told NutraIngredients-Asia.

Since consumers today tend to search online for information around supplements and medicine use, an online pharmacy could serve to provide accurate knowledge at the consumers’ convenience, Lim added.

“The fact is that we are becoming more and more health literate; we often google for information.

“Some of the information online is good, some is half-truth, so having a knowledgeable medication expert like pharmacists whom you can contact readily will be very helpful, especially for this new generation of consumers, who want empowerment in their medication journey,”​ she said.

Consumers could seek pharmacy advice for free through the WhatsApp link provided on Glovida-Rx’s website.

Glovida-Rx whatsapp chat
Consumers could seek advice from Glovida-Rx's pharmacists via WhatApp messaging. ©Glovida-Rx

As there is no storefront, the e-pharmacy is also able to offer products that are around 10 per cent cheaper than the market.

In contrast to most offline pharmacies in Singapore where the pharmacists mainly advise on medication use, Glovida-Rx seeks to provide a more holistic pharmacy service, where pharmacists are equipped to teach consumers how to use health supplements as well.

The pharmacists be able to make recommendations for health supplements that best meet consumers’ health needs, advise on the dosage required, and the contraindications to look out for.

“We want to provide a more holistic service. Not every consumer would want to take medications certain conditions, some might prefer health supplements.

“This was also the part and parcel of our training as pharmacists to also recommend something else that is not medicated​,​said Wong who was trained as a pharmacist in Australia.

“How we recommend the product is based on the needs of the patients. Take knee pain for example, most of the time doctors will prescribe painkillers, but for us, we can recommend consumers to try glucosamine or chondroitin, collagen, or Boswellia etc,”​ he explained.

Some common questions that consumers have include whether they could take antibiotics with probiotics, he said. 

Lim added that pharmacists were educated about both medication and health supplements use, but their knowledge in the latter was untapped.

Product range

Currently, there are over 350 SKUs of OTC products, including health supplements, and close to 200 medications available on the e-pharmacy.

Women and children’s health, probiotics, joint and bone, as well as immunity-related products are some of the major health supplements categories available on the e-pharmacy.

Examples of products available are Vivomixx, Immuneped, Sambucol, Leftose, Blackmores, and Redoxon.

Brand reputation, the ingredient list, including the use of scientifically proven active ingredients, and the dosage amount are some of the key criteria that Wong and his team looks at when selecting the types of health supplements to sell on Glovida-Rx.

This is because consumers are especially concerned about safety, efficacy, provenance, dosage, and drug interaction when using health supplements, added Lim.

There are currently three pharmacists working on providing the services.

Emphasising on its bespoke services, Lim said that the team would also strive to bring in products not available in Singapore upon consumer request.

An example is Maltofer Iron supplements, which the pharmacy brought in upon a consumer's request. 

Aside from pharmacy medications and OTC products, which health supplements fall under, Glovida-Rx also works with about five doctors to provide teleconsultation and prescription medications to patients.

E-pharmacy registration

Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) rolled out the e-pharmacy service​ about three years ago on May 5, 2020.

The purpose is to offer patients greater convenience and wider healthcare options.

According to the HSA, retail pharmacies and wholesalers licensed by them and operating in Singapore with good track record in handling Prescription-Only medicines (POM) and Pharmacy Only medicines (P), may apply for a pharmacy licence or include such services in their existing pharmacy licence if they intend to carry out e-pharmacy operations.

Wellchem Pharmaceuticals, the company behind Glovida-Rx, had spent about a year in obtaining the license to operate the e-pharmacy. 

Wong is also the director and pharmacist of Wellchem Pharmaceuticals and Lim, the general manager at the firm.

Based on their experience, some of the key criterion for obtaining the license include a strong and proven track record, and a secure information system.

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