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RPS ‘clearly at odds' with GPhC over P-med self-selection

The RPS has said it is “continuing to consider” its stance on self-selection of P-meds in community pharmacies following its board meeting on June 19.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said it is “deeply disappointed” by the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) decision to permit pharmacy medicine (P-med) self-selection, in a statement released on June 20.

The RPS said that the “monumental change in practice” had already been approved by the regulator in “hundreds of pharmacies”, and that this had been done without “wider communication from the regulator to the profession, patients and the public”.

The professional body said that it was this context that had led it to invite Boots and the regulator to its board meeting to “describe the patient safety assurances that have enabled the regulator to approve this change”.

Read more: ‘Betrayal of profession’: RPS slammed for mulling pro P-med self-selection stance

The professional body said that its current position on self-selection was “clearly at odds with the regulator”.

Nevertheless, the RPS said it was “continuing to consider” its stance and said it would soon launch a “call for evidence” to make certain that any changes to its guidance were “truly evidence based”.

On June 18 C+D reported that pharmacists had deemed the RPS’ plans to reevaluate its P-med self-selection policy in its joint board meeting “absolutely shocking” and a “betrayal of the profession”.


GPhC: “We don’t seek to stifle innovation”


Meanwhile, the regulator released a statement on Thursday (June 20) in which its chief pharmacy officer Roz Gittins admitted that “the language previously used for ‘self-selection’ such as ‘open display’ has not always been helpful”.

Gittins said that the regulator’s policy was better described as “facilitated self-selection”, in which “the pharmacy team” can help to supply a patient with a P-med, and which supply is supervised by a pharmacist.

Read more: Coroner: Medicines regulator must ‘take action’ after anti-nausea P-med death

“We don’t seek to stifle innovation,” said Gittins, as she pointed the profession to an FAQ about “facilitating self-selection of pharmacy medicines”.

Gittins said that the regulator will “continue to monitor developments through our normal inspection activity”.


PDA fury


The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) meanwhile called on the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) board to roundly reject proposals to change its policy to allow self-selection of pharmacy-only medicines (P-meds) on June 18.

Ahead of the RPS’s meeting, the PDA warned that if the RPS decided to approve self-selection of P-meds, it “would raise significant questions about the legitimacy of such a decision”. 

“The profession has not been consulted,” said the trade union in its blog post, which warned that such a move could lead to a “diminution in patient safety” and a smaller role for pharmacists in supporting patients.

Read more: ‘Very positive’ turnout: Fewer than 2,000 votes for RPS leadership

The PDA said an endorsement for P-med self-selection by the “professional leadership body for pharmacists” would be “directly in conflict with the hopes, fears, and aspirations of practising pharmacists”.

The PDA noted that in 2012, it and the RPS had “fought a vigorous campaign” to keep P-med self-selection from being supported by the profession.

It added that it was “astounded” by the use of “customer” rather than patient in the presentations and that increasing sales was used as an argument in favour of the change. The PDA said that the RPS should not “reflect on ways to improve the commercial interests of business owners”.

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