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GPhC looking into concerns about online pharmacy featured on Panorama

UK Meds claimed its GPhC inspection in February was "satisfactory on every level"
UK Meds claimed its GPhC inspection in February was "satisfactory on every level"

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is “considering concerns” raised about online pharmacy UK Meds – which featured on Panorama last night.

Online pharmacy UK Meds came under fire in the BBC investigation after one former opiate addict was able to order 100 dihydrocodeine 30mg tablets, while another ordered 56 capsules of 300mg pregabalin – a drug the BBC claimed is becoming “increasingly abused”.

The BBC alleged that both volunteers were able to obtain the medicines after submitting false medical information, without any interaction with a healthcare professional.

The GPhC told C+D today (August 7) that it had received “concerns about UK Meds Ltd” and is “in the process of considering” them.

“We are not able to provide any further details at this stage,” it added.

In its response to the BBC programme, UK Meds said as a registered online pharmacy it complies with all regulations from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the GPhC, and claimed its latest GPhC inspection in February “concluded that the pharmacy operated satisfactorily on every level”.

C+D has asked the GPhC to confirm these details.

The GPhC is currently seeking views on its proposals to prevent online pharmacies from supplying certain medicine groups, such as opiates and asthma inhalers, unless safeguards are put in place. You have until August 21 to share your thoughts on the proposals here.

In March, C+D spent a week exploring the world of online pharmacies. Read all the coverage here.

How do you ensure patient safety with your online services?

Brian AUSTEN, Administration & Support

Panorama identified a GP that had his GMC registration removed, then set-up a company under his wife's name, which supplied EU doctors, mainly from Romania that were paid by items prescribed, apparently with few if any checks in the interest of patient safety and no follow-up with the patient's GP. The prescription was then dispensed by an on-line pharmacy. The CQC and GMC currently have no way of closing down this 'loophole'. I already knew that it existed following research, before I wrote SOPs for a on-line doctor prescription service, using mainly Romanian doctors. I ensured that the SOPs contained checks and safeguards now enforced in UK. I also provided additional SOPs for the dispensing pharmacy that placed a responsibility upon it to only dispense prescriptions from prescribers that operated in accordance with UK standards.

ComPharm Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Why does it take the BBC to expose these businesses? GPHC do your job! 

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

They'll probably take as much action as they did when the Boots whistleblower came forward with piles of evidence. Nothing. Heaven forbid that you make a dispensing error though!

Surely the law needs to be changed to stop private online medical services from ANYWHERE from issuing prescriptions for any schedule of controlled drugs. And I mean any. These should only be via face to face consultations.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

The GPhC are looking at restricting supplyu of opiates & asthma meicines without appropriate safeguards - those safeguards should be that they cannot be supplied from an internet consultation. I know this will have ramifications for skype-consultations but so what? which is more important - embracing technology or patient safety?

Concerned pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Why stop at opiates and asthma medications? On-line services will always be open to abuse and less safe than face to face prescribing and dispensing. Until we can guarantee safeguards, controls and patient safety NO prescription only medicine (or P med) should be available online.




Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Am I being a bit dim here? How can a UK registered pharmacy supply POMs without a prescription?? 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

From what I saw of the programme and from knowledge they are dispensing an EU Rx. So technically legal

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