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Indie owed thousands in private Wegovy scripts after corporate clash

Independent pharmacies have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket thanks to a payment dispute between companies triggered by an alleged “data breach”, C+D has learned. 

Pharmacy owner Stuart Geddes was left £2,600 down after weight loss clinic Dr Frank’s “cut ties” with pharmacy technology provider Healthera, he revealed to C+D last week (May 13).

Geddes told C+D that after working in independent pharmacies for “the last 12 years”, he “managed to get [his] hands on an old branch of Lloydspharmacy along the road from where [he] used to work” last year.

“I'd used [Healthera] previously and it works really well –  people can order through their app, they can live chat with us…so I got my own place signed up for it” in August, he said.

He added that the company got in touch with his pharmacy Ren Pharmacy “pretty quickly” asking whether it would like to dispense private weight loss drugs prescribed by online clinic Dr Frank’s.

Despite being “lucrative”, with drugs like Wegovy priced with a “25% markup”, Geddes claimed that Healthera wasn’t “the quickest” at paying the pharmacy “from the start”.

Both Healthera and Dr Frank’s are taking legal action against each other, citing a breach of their agreement, they told C+D. 

 

“Ridiculous”

 

He told C+D that after the new year, the late payments became “ridiculous”.

“By the end of April, I still hadn't been invoiced for what we'd done in March and so I was sending emails back and forth to them, saying ‘I can't sustain this, you owe me money’,” he said.

He received an email from Healthera in May, seen by C+D, saying that the company would not be able to pay him the £2,600 he claimed was owed as it hadn’t received payment from Dr Frank’s.

“There are people out there who are probably in a similar position and they may be owed more money than me,” Geddes told C+D.

He added that he is also seeking compensation for weight loss drug stock “that's going to go out of date”, adding that he had around £2,000-worth of Wegovy stock and “six packets of Mounjaro…ordered in February-March time”.

He said that Healthera asked him to order in the short-dated stock although he has “not used any of it”.

 

“Serious misuse of patient data”

 

Last week (May 13), Healthera told C+D that Dr Frank’s had “broken their agreement…and refused to pay for fulfilled orders, citing a data breach by a few of [its] pharmacy partners”.

In an email sent to pharmacies and seen by C+D, Healthera said that Dr Frank’s told it in March that “a small number of pharmacy partners had been using the patient contact details provided on a prescription for clinical purposes to…encourage them to instead purchase from their own weight loss clinics”.

This is “a serious misuse of patient data” and Dr Frank’s has initiated a claim for “alleged loss of earnings”, it added.

But Healthera claimed last week that the allegation had so far “not been proven” and that it believed it is nonetheless “no excuse to avoid paying all of [its] hard-working partner pharmacies what they are owed”.

 

Legal dispute

 

Both companies told C+D that they were taking legal action against each other – and Healthera added that it is also supporting its “pharmacy partners by helping them lodge their own legal action”.

But the company told its partner pharmacies that it did not know how long it would take to “go through court proceedings and recover funds owed”.

It told C+D that it has plans to launch its own “pharmacist-led private prescribing service whereby pharmacies are paid immediately” to “rectify the situation”.

Dr Frank’s declined to comment due to the ongoing legal dispute, which it said was due to a “breach of contract”.

In October, C+D revealed that independent pharmacy contractors were facing “disgraceful” Wegovy purchasing quotas that allowed them to offer the jab to just “one weight loss patient…per month”.

Meanwhile, an online pharmacy was able to purchase at least 10 times more stock.

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