Layer 1

Lawyer: GPhC could take action against Pharmacy2U employees

Noel Wardle: Too early to say if GPhC will take any action

The regulator is more likely to investigate individual pharmacists rather than the whole company, says Noel Wardle


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) could potentially take action against any pharmacists involved in the Pharmacy2U data-selling scandal, a lawyer has said.

The regulator announced last week that its “key priority” is to investigate the sale of patient information by the online business, and lawyer Noel Wardle told C+D the GPhC is more likely to target pharmacists employed by the company than to pursue the business directly.

Mr Wardle, partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, stressed that it is “too early to say” what action – if any – the GPhC will take against Pharmacy2U, which was last month fined £130,000 by the information commissioner.

The company has “sincerely apologised” for the “regrettable incident”, which in 2014 saw the names and addresses of 21,500 Pharmacy2U patients sold via a third party to three companies, including a lottery company that a government watchdog claimed had “deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable individuals”.

Potential code of ethics breaches

Mr Wardle said the GPhC would normally focus its investigation on whether any pharmacist working for the company had breached the regulator’s code of ethics. “It has on occasion taken action against a company as well as an [individual], but that’s pretty rare,” he said.

The GPhC’s Standards for Conduct, Ethics and Performance require pharmacists to “never disclose confidential information without consent unless required to do so by law”. If the GPhC found Pharmacy2U had breached this code, “you would expect it to take that seriously”, Mr Wardle said.

Any action the regulator decided to take would depend on whether the sale of patient data was premeditated or done for financial gain, as well as “what procedures were in place [and] what the consequences were”, he said.

Mr Wardle added that the regulator could in theory remove Pharmacy2U from the register, although he was not aware of a company being penalised in this way in the past six years, since the GPhC took over regulation from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB).


Should further action be taken against Pharmacy2U?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

I was working at a nhs hospital and my manager told everyone of the criminal record boots gave me he abused me on a. Daily basis verbally and emotionally this could gave as ls I. Lead tty o serial assault as he threatened me jn department meetings,saying my secret is out... He abused me so bad I needed counselling I no at the priory.. Luckily he did not make new go mental.. Thank God.... He works as a lecturer..... I'm reporting him to the police but there seems to b ed. An inequality in the legal system..... I'm writing a book about my life plus boolywood,wants my story... I'm afraid some of us are still being damaged by British rule.... I've been tortured by this country... And professional people born here... But hey I'm still alive

£130,000 is probably a relatively minor overhead when offset against the gross profit. The message sent out by the IC is that it's always worth the risk to breach patient confidentiality where buyers will pay big bucks. GPhC needs to make an example of Pharmacy2U by list removal, for bringing the profession into disrepute.

Hackney Drug Dealer, Community pharmacist

GPhC? Really? Show Cojones? (just had a patient return TODAY with a P2U delivery asking 'why?' as felt he had been mis-sold to)

Gavin Dobson, Academic pharmacist

"Any action the regulator decided to take would depend on whether the sale of patient data was premeditated" ~ D'oh "or done for financial gain" ~ D'oh "as well as what procedures were in place" ~ I hope they encrypted the data before illegally selling it. "[and] what the consequences were” ~ a lottery company deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable individuals. Definitely don't take any action then.

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

Surely they should start at the Superintendent Pharmacist and work their way downwards. Oh .. RP regs. Thanks Steve.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Cowards. why fine the company £130k. Absolute joke

Job of the week

Pharmacist Manager
Midlands, Cheshire & Dorset
Salary dependent upon experience