The pharmacy provides clinically tested, natural solutions to help relieve the pressure on the conventional healthcare system that he believes often ‘takes a sledge hammer to a nut’, Kevin Leivers wants to teach consumers about the true potential of natural remedies.
He says: “We want to provide the effective natural pharmaceuticals and supplements and support consumers on their health journeys. The health care system is so dominated by pharmaceuticals and the trouble is, it takes too long for good natural product research to bubble through to primary health care.
“GPs are very restricted with what they can prescribe so it’s hard for them to recommend these types of solutions. They might suggest to a patient, if their Ibuprofen isn’t working, they might like to try turmeric, but they won’t know which product to recommend.
“I think it is shifting but there’s a long long way to go. GPs need to be allowed breathing space to provide alternative solutions
and there needs to be more education of these alternatives because health professionals are currently having to teach themselves.”
“A lot of the time, practitioners are dealing with lifestyle and food/diet driven health issues and in these circumstances pharmaceutical intervention is like a sledge hammer cracking a nut.”
Leivers knows there are times when pharmaceuticals are necessary but points out that the long term side effects and impacts on lifestyle need to be weighed up against the benefits.
Leivers aims to take the trust that arises with the strict method of pharmaceutical research and production, and bring this to the natural remedies market.
As former chief pharmacist for the UK branch of the medicine manufacturer Weleda AG, he has the expertise to do this.
He says some of the natural remedies currently on the market, particularly those sold on the internet are far from trustworthy.
“If you look at the market there’s a huge spread of products, some made using very basic manufacturing standards and the quality of the supplements themselves varies significantly. These products only provide limited nutrition/health benefits.
“If we take a pharmaceutical approach to the way we research, develop, manufacture and sell these products we can achieve much bigger health impacts.
“For example, we have a bergamot product that is supported by a number of published, placebo controlled, randomised studies with up to 200 participants and they demonstrate it’s effectiveness for cholesterol and fatty liver.
“Around 33 per cent of the population have fatty liver issues and our bergamot has been through the same clinical research and formulated to providing the right number of actives, standardised to a minimum strength of 47 per cent. It’s that sort of discipline that I want to bring forward with Naked Pharmacy.”
The pharmacy offers 25 contracted and eight own-brand products and is already exporting to 15 countries but he’d like to grow his own brand range to 100.
His top selling product is Natruflex - high potency turmeric capsules - but he says his saffron product is also seeing an impressive rise in interest as people look for natural ways to control stress and achieve better sleep.
Other products in his range include: Aged Black Garlic for the heart and circulation, Olive Leaf with Elenolic Acid for the immune system and Bergatone Plus for weight management.
The entrepreneur points out that when Boots launched in 1849, it was “all about community”, which is a business model he’d like to recreate.
“They also didn’t have prescription drugs in those days, it was all natural. That’s what we want to recreate in a sense.
“I want to pick up the natural tradition and the community element. Although we are an internet pharmacy we offer free pharmacist advice and support to all of our customers, including the retailers who sell the range.
“If you’re taking a medicine you never get to talk to the people that made it. There’s always a GP and everyone else in between. When do you feel close to the product you’re taking?”
Leivers adds that his pharmacy provides direct communication between the manufacturer and the consumer – something that rarely happens in the pharmaceutical industry.
The company does a lot of work on social media to keep consumers informed about how to choose the right natural products for their needs.
“I think consumers are really struggling with how to unpick labels and understand the level of actives in the products.
“But there’s a shift to a much more informed consumer and they are realising it’s not all about price because you get what you pay for.”
He says the entrepreneur in him started to emerge in 2004 when he left Weleda and set up the consultancy business Lotus Health Ltd, a specialist new product development company providing experience in the design, formulation, development, regulation, sales and marketing of natural cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.
It was in doing this that he realised consumers needed a ‘one stop shop’ for their natural remedy needs supported by expert advice.
He is now looking for commercial partners as he aims to grow his total range to around 200 and increase export power.