A TOP Saddleworth pharmacist has spoken out about concerns that a new online mail order pharmacy is undermining local services.
Ian Strachan, owner of Strachan’s Chemist in Uppermill and Chairman of the National Pharmacy Association which champions community pharmacies over online pharmacies, is raising his worries around Pharmacy2U.
He explained: “The marketing material which arrives in a personal letter with NHS insignia gives the impression this pharmacy has an official connection with your doctor’s practice or the local pharmacy.
“This is not actually illegal but is deliberately and intentionally misleading, and damaging to our local pharmacies.
“We need to raise awareness of what Pharmacy2U is but more importantly what it isn’t.
“Many patients have not understood that Pharmacy2U is actually a warehouse in Leeds and they are sending medication in Jiffy bags through Royal Mail!
“This is having a destabilising effect on patients but particularly the vulnerable, house bound, frail and immobile.”
The letter from Pharmacy2U offers a “no hassle, no fuss” service to deliver patients’ NHS prescriptions straight to their door after they have registered for the services and nominated the Pharmacy to dispense their prescriptions.
It has no official connection to a patient’s local medical practice, and patients can change back from Pharmacy2U by simply nominating another pharmacy.
A Pharmacy2U spokesperson said: “People who have NHS repeat prescriptions are able to choose where and how their medicines are dispensed.
“The National Pharmacy Association, of which Ian Strachan is Chairman, is the trade association for independent community pharmacy owners in the UK. It does not support or represent online pharmacies, only the interests of community pharmacies.
“Pharmacy2U is the largest online pharmacy in the country and has been managing NHS repeat prescriptions from request to delivery since the introduction of the Electronic Prescription Service.
“People choose to use Pharmacy2U because our technology offers them greater convenience and an excellent customer experience, which people have come to expect from leading online services. We have over 26,000 reviews on Trustpilot rating the service 8.8/10 and 97% of our users rate Pharmacy2U as good or excellent.
“Like most companies we will send information to people who we believe would benefit from our service.
“We take our responsibility as a health care service extremely seriously and ensure the information we share is approved by NHS England and follows the official guidelines set by the GPhC, the best practice guidelines of the Direct Marketing Association, and carries the Plain English Campaign Crystal Mark for clarity of communication.
“Our literature clearly states the process that people need to follow to benefit from Pharmacy2U. Under NHS regulations, doctors are not permitted to recommend any pharmacy and we make it clear on any correspondence that Pharmacy2U is not recommended or approved by an individual’s doctor.
“Pharmacy2U is recognised as one of the most advanced and sophisticated operations in the world. All our prescriptions are sent in sealed packaging, designed specifically for our medicines, using a tracked service that informs the patient when the package will be delivered.”