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The one ‘we all fear’: Contractors push GPhC on Amazon Pharmacy stance

Amazon Pharmacy is a source of “fear” for UK community pharmacy, but what is the regulator’s position on the retail giant’s potential entry into the sector?

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) would treat Amazon Pharmacy like any other applicant for a licence, its deputy regional manager David Clark said at a panel discussion at the Pharmacy Show today (October 15).


Read more: Four in 10 Amazon customers would use its online pharmacy service, survey finds


Mr Clark was responding to concerns raised by Sam Patel, director of Day Lewis, in a panel chaired by Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) chief executive Dr Leyla Hannbeck.


The panel also featured Declan Lismore, quality and compliance director at LloydsDirect, which was acquired by Pharmacy2U earlier this month (October 5).



The one “we all fear”



Mr Patel said that Amazon is the “one player that we all fear” for its impact on the “sustainability” of the community pharmacy sector.


He cited the example of Uber, saying that it can be “easy” for companies to “get a contract in the same way” as anyone else in the sector and it pose “a real challenge later on”.


“You've actually got to be proactive about thinking about the possibility of things and then working through how we get to the right outcomes rather than saying, ‘Oh, sorry, there's no black cabs in London anymore because Uber came,’” he added.


Read more: Pharmacy shouldn’t ‘bury its head in the sand’ about Amazon threat


Mr Patel called on the pharmacy regulator to use “common sense” if Amazon were to apply for inclusion on its register and refer the application to the secretary of state so that they can evaluate whether granting a licence would be “in the national interest”.


But Mr Clark said that any company applying to the GPhC for a contract “will get on the register” if they meet the requisite criteria and will be “undertaking registerable activity”.


“All I would say is that anybody applying for a contract, if they meet the criteria required and will be undertaking registerable activity, then they will get on the register,” he told delegates.


Read more: Amazon files for Amazon Pharmacy trademark in the UK


In January 2020, C+D reported that Amazon had filed a trademark for the name “Amazon Pharmacy” in the UK, Canada and Australia – but since then, it has not shared any updates on its plans.


The following month, former pharmacy minister Steve Brine said that the government and community pharmacy shouldn’t “bury [their] head in the sand" when it comes to the threat posed by online pharmacies such as Amazon.


And in August 2021, a survey found that more than four in 10 Amazon customers said they would use the company’s pharmacy platform to purchase medicines.

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