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'Amazonisation' of community pharmacy 'not going to happen'

“Who’s going to do big hub-and-spoke? The very large companies.”

The long-feared "Amazonisation" of community pharmacy "isn't going to happen", according to the director of an automated dispensing company.

“It’s almost a ridiculous statement," said Andy Beesley, director of Robotik Technology UK, which installs dispensing robots and develops compliance aids for pharmacies.

"I don’t see [an Amazon] type of company coming in,” he told C+D in an exclusive podcast recorded last November.

"A book, my CDs, the videos I want to buy – [they] are not the same as my medicines," he added. "It’s not the same concept at all."

“So who’s going to do big hub-and-spoke [dispensing]? It will be the people we already know – the very large companies.”

Listen to the full podcast below to hear Mr Beesley discuss:

  • The role of the responsible pharmacist in the hub-and-spoke model
  • What a “pack-dispensing robot” is, and how it can benefit a pharmacy
  • How dispensing hubs cope with unexpected medication and order changes from clients
  • Hub-and-spoke “scare stories”
  • Why there is little published evidence of the effectiveness of hub-and-spoke dispensing.

Have you worked within a hub-and-spoke dispensing model?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I tend to agree that the way forward is going to be hub and spoke models and usage of technology in this fashion. It's going to happen, almost certainly. 

Brian Austen, Senior Management

The CEO of Amazon has been looking at the Ocado Business Model for delivering groceries in UK. They are going to provide a similar service in USA and take on Walmart. If you can do fresh food you can do prescription medicines and OTC, especially with the return on investment. Amazon always take the long view. With their business inteligence, R&D, investment strategies and available cash it would be foolhardy to rule them out!

P M, Community pharmacist

funding model has also changed to suit internet pharmacies

Dave Downham, Manager

Diagree - how much you get per item has decreased massively, which means it's the high volume dispensers which are hit more.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

The loss of establishment payments will ensure that low turnover pharmacies that don't diversify will lose out the most.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Economies of scale?

Dave Downham, Manager

I don't disagree, but if you are down 25p per item and you dispense 100,000 items, that's £25k per month. Hence the point that the funding model hurts more for large scale than small corner shops.

Dave Downham, Manager

Feeling the love, MP?...and you can take me out for a beer.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

'Amazonisation' of community pharmacy 'not going to happen'

Correct. It is already well underway - Pharmacy2U. Pharmacy2U is currently the largest NHS contracted Pharmacy. They are going from strength to strength and are employing agressive marketing tactics that are scaring the pants off the bricks and mortar establishment. They have successfully lobbied for an amendment of the 1968 Medicines Act as well as the codes of ethics of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in order to allow them to send prescriptions by mail (and we're still waiting for decriminalisation of dispensing errors... maybe we could get Pharmacy2U to take this on? They'd get it sorted before the weeks out.). They have been awarded pilots and have had the approval of the NHS. And they must be thanking their lucky stars for the EPS. In short, the powers that be are bending over backwards to facilitate them in the hope that the Amazon model will save the NHS billions. They've had a few hiccups (!) along the way, but good sports that they are, the regulator pretty much turned a blind eye. I'm not saying it's right nor do I approve - after all it'll put me out of a job, just stating fact. Welcome to the 21st century Andy.

Marc Borson, Community pharmacist


Hi Valentine trodd in your contribution you claim that P2u have lobbied government for legislative change and the rps can you provide evidence for this? Ian chair of the coalition for GDP a group of pharmacist that is lobbying the DoH and the GPhC to improve the guidance on dispensing of medicines by delivery. Email me at marcborson at 


S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Repeat dispensing lends itself perfectly for automated direct to patient delivery with huge cost savings for the NHS.

s8chy P, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Has Andy beesley heard of pharmacy2u? 

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