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GPhC: 'Not appropriate' for pharmacies to sell certain antibody tests

It is “not appropriate” for community pharmacies to sell or recommend COVID-19 rapid response antibody tests, following current public health advice, the GPhC has said.

Pharmacies should “support public health” by “stopping any current provision” of these tests, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) warned in a letter to contractors yesterday (July 21).

The regulator said it is aware that several pharmacies across Great Britain are selling rapid response antibody testing kits privately, which might be legal to sell if they have a CE mark, meaning a product meets European quality assurance.

“This does not necessarily mean that it is appropriate for a health professional to supply it to a patient or member of the public,” the GPhC said, as there is “conflicting evidence in relation to the use and efficacy of these tests”.

“During this ongoing national public health crisis, any activity that may contribute to false results or assurances that then impact on public behaviour should not be supported,” the regulator said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told C+D today (July 22) that “no privately available antibody test has been approved for national rollout, although we continue to work with the industry”.

​A GPhC spokesperson told C+D today that the organisation wrote to “pharmacy owners and superintendents setting out our concerns and asking them to support public health by not offering COVID-19 rapid antibody testing services”.

“If enforcement action is needed, as always we have a range of options, which we consider on a risk-informed case by case basis,” they added.

Protect public health

The GPhC does not have powers to determine the “legality, safety or efficacy” of these tests, it said.

However, as the regulator of pharmacy professionals, it needs to ensure that registered pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners “work to protect public health as well as the health of individuals using pharmacy services”.

It invited pharmacy teams to comply with any recommended national guidance available to them.

“We are asking that you ensure your pharmacies support public health by not offering such services and stopping any current provision,” the GPhC said.

In April, the GPhC wrote to seven online pharmacies to ask them to remove illegal COVID-19 home testing kits from sale.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency asked pharmacies in May to stop selling COVID-19 antibody testing using a finger-prick blood sample, “until home collection of this sample type has been properly assessed and validated for use with these laboratory tests.”

This request prompted Lloydspharmacy and Superdrug to remove their home sampling tests from sale.

What do you make of the GPhC's statement?

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