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Advertising watchdog investigating Pharmacy2U TV marketing claims

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The Advertising Standards Authority stressed it has not come to a judgment on the case yet
The Advertising Standards Authority stressed it has not come to a judgment on the case yet

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is "currently investigating" two Pharmacy2U adverts after receiving 10 complaints "so far", C+D has learned.

The complaints relate to claims made by Pharmacy2U in two television adverts and a tweet sent from the company account, the advertising watchdog confirmed to C+D this afternoon (February 22). 

Eight of these complaints were in direct response to Pharmacy2U’s claim that “managing repeat prescriptions online…can save the NHS over £300 million a year on prescription costs”, the ASA added. 

The complainants “challenged whether the claim…could be substantiated”.

One complaint "challenged whether the TV ads made it clear that the practice of ordering repeat prescriptions on behalf of patients is prohibited in certain parts of the UK", the ASA explained.

Another questioned Pharmacy2U's claim that patients "spend three-and-a-half hours a month travelling to GPs and pharmacies and queuing up and waiting", the watchdog told C+D.

The claims used in Pharmacy2U's marketing materials originate from its report, written by Dr Duncan Petty, research practitioner in primary care pharmacy from the University of Bradford and published in November 2017.

The ASA stressed that it is “currently investigating” the complaints, and “has not come to a judgment on the case yet”. 

C+D has contacted Pharmacy2U for comment.

In 2016, the General Pharmaceutical Council suspended Pharmacy2U’s commercial director for three months for the company’s sale of patient data in 2014. The company stressed at the time that it was “sincerely sorry", and that no medical information had been shared.

17 Comments
Question: 
Do you offer an online repeat prescription service in your pharmacy?

Brian Austen, Senior Management

NHS England are happy to promote on-line services provided by distance selling pharmacies that have no face to face contact with patients. They are promoting automation and 'dispensing factories' to improve productivity. They will get that productivity increase because they will cut the activity payments for distance selling pharmacies using the justification that they don't deserve the same funding as pharmacies that provide face to face services. This is ingenious manipulation of community pharmacy to achieve their objectives. Simon Stevens, CEO NHS England, previoulsly with USA health management organisation United Health has made it very clear that he does not value independent community pharmacy. The organisations that represent and regulate community pharmacy will not get in the way of his vision for pharmacy for fear of having any authority that they have removed! Pharmacy2U have absolutely nothing to fear. All they have to do is manage bad press or TV coverage when it investigates them in the public interest. I'm sure there are people at Boots that could help them with that!

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

Online pharmacies will soon be the major suppliers of medicines in the next wether pharmacists like it or not..... the patinets seem to like it as there trust pilot reviews show and the number of people registering with them.  Get with the programme people. ** Stopping feeding them and they will go hungry..simples1!! Wenger In!! 

*This comment has been edited to reflect the fact that EMIS has not been a part-owner of Pharmacy2U since 2016*

R Patel, Community pharmacist

Yet again, we have patients who have switched to them , are coming in thinking it’s organised by us and they can have  their medicines delivered by us wherever they choose. When will our representatives speak up for us against this unfair practice of sending out ambiguous leaflets to addresses already on their database after the 2016 fiasco? Another nail in our coffin —after losing out to multiples being allowed to open in GP surgeries. We have to pick up the tedious and time consuming service like NUMSAS when these prescription factories are closed over the weekend. Time to retire!!

C A, Community pharmacist

"managing repeat prescriptions online…can save the NHS over £300 million a year"

 

Good news - no need to Brexit - we have found a way to deliver what the battle bus promised! £300 million for the NHS. 

 

It's a shame that like the brexiteers, they have little evidence for this.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

"managing repeat prescriptions online…can save the NHS over £300 million a year"

It was a misprint, they meant "cost the NHS over £300 million a year..."

Peter Badham, Superintendent Pharmacist

I have reported Pharmacy2U to the  standards department of the GPhC because their advert shows medication being delivered through the letterbox, which is against good practice as defined by the GPhC and the NPA . I was told the GPhC was not prepared to take any action , because i could not identify a patient , and it was only a general concern!

Last week my wife registered online for Pharmacy2U , to see what risk assesment or safeguarding they had . She was invited to select through the letterbox , and/or a safe haven . She selected the greenhouse in our garden . She then requested a controlled drug to be delivered !

I have asked the GPhC to take action 

I will advise you of the outcome of this 

It seems to me Pharmacy2U can do whatever they want , and no real action is taken against them , they seem to be above the law and good practice . 

It is about time this was sorted out , that is what the GPhC is there for 

 

Muhammad Rafiq, Superintendent Pharmacist

Mr Badham,

has any comment been made by the GPhC?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Any feedback from the GPhC??

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Your great-grandchildren will deal with the reply from the GPhC when it eventually arrives. It will say something along the lines of  'we are looking into your claims'. But like you said let us know the outcome. Lmao.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

I'm sure the GPhC will sort them out. Good work, keep us informed.

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Given that four fellows and one member of The Society have put their best to this "research", what is the view of the RPS? They're not bothering to respond to a me...

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Pharmacy2U being investigated over lies and falsehoods - how many more instances of dodgy dealing are we to tolerate from this bunch or charlatans?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

As long as the coffers at the GPhC / RPS continue to be stuffed then the 'charlatans' will continue.

John Cleese, Production & Technical

What do you mean?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Basically as long pharmacists keep paying their subs to keep the GPhC in luxury and whatever cosy arrangements with the big boys are in place then the status quo will remain.

For example You'd have to be very naive or dumb to think there is nothing going on with the stubborn refusal to investigate Boots or Pharmacy2U.

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist

There should be research on wellness benefit of  social interaction with pharmacy assistants and pharmacists compared to the faceless internet transaction.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I wonder if the GPhC are interested or are they busy 'protecting the public'. Their silence is a litttle mysterious some might say. Mr Waldron is there any chance of approaching them for comment?

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