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GPhC warns seven online pharmacies over illegal COVID-19 tests

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has written to seven online pharmacies to request they remove illegal COVID-19 home testing kits from sale.

  • It is legal for pharmacies to sell tests where samples are subsequently analysed in a laboratory,
  • It is currently illegal to supply tests with rapid results for testing and diagnosing at home or in community pharmacies.

The GPhC told C+D last month (April 29) that it had written to the seven pharmacies to underline the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) guidance that it is “illegal to sell home test kits without a CE mark” . It also requestd that the tests were removed from sale, it said.

“We expect pharmacy owners to comply with the law and consider relevant guidance from appropriate bodies such as the MHRA, Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society,” the GPhC added.

“MHRA advice is that there are currently no CE-marked tests for home use, and it is illegal to supply such products,” it explained.

In March, PHE advised against the use of coronavirus tests in community pharmacies and at home, citing that there was “no  published evidence” of  their efficacy.

However, some pharmacies are selling home sampling kits, which involve collecting a sample at home that is then processed by an accredited laboratory. Such tests are legal if they have a CE mark.

Last month (April 15), the National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had arrested a pharmacist from Croydon on suspicion of illegally selling coronavirus testing kits.

In the same NCA statement, MHRA head of operations for enforcement Tariq Sarwar said the regulator was “committed to working together with law enforcement to protect public health and prevent unsafe medicines and medical devices getting to the public.”

For more information about the different types of COVID-19 tests, read C+D’s feature on everything you need to know about selling coronavirus tests.

Have you seen a pharmacy selling COVID-19 home tests?

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