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GPhC restricts further 9 online pharmacies' supply of high-risk drugs

GPhC: We have served 12 enforcement notices since August, all for online pharmacies
GPhC: We have served 12 enforcement notices since August, all for online pharmacies

The GPhC has restricted the practice of a further nine online pharmacies after raising concerns about their supply of controlled drugs and high-risk medicines.

Since October, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has issued nine enforcement notices, which can include an “improvement notice” or a set of conditions that pharmacies have to meet before they are able to resume their normal dispensing activity.

This brings the total number of enforcement notices served from August-November to 12, after the GPhC restricted the services of an initial three online pharmacies in September. All of the enforcement notices the regulator has implemented in this time period have been for online pharmacies, it told C+D today (November 12).

Some of the inspection reports for these pharmacies are not finalised yet, the regulator said, but the enforcement notices are available to read on the GPhC’s inspection website.

For example, Halliwell Midnight Pharmacy in Lancashire – the trading name of the website – must meet a number of conditions by November 14, including ensuring “that the prescriber you work with is working within UK national prescribing guidelines and good practice guidance” and that “the pharmacy effectively monitors and reviews all prescriptions to prevent over-ordering or misuse”, according to the GPhC improvement notice.

Conditions on controlled drug supply 

The most recent eight enforcement actions that place conditions on the pharmacies’ dispensing practice all restrict them from supplying controlled drugs from schedule 1 to 5.

However, three of these businesses – Aktivepharmacy, which also trades as PillDoctor, in Romford, Nationwide Pharmacies in Buckinghamshire, and Ritecare Pharmacy in Merseyside – are allowed to supply controlled drugs “against a legally valid NHS prescription”.

UK Meds Direct in Nottingham must not supply modafinil, while Homecare Pharmacy in West Midlands cannot dispense either modafinil or amitriptyline, the GPhC said.

FCL Chemist in Derbyshire was served two enforcement notices: it cannot supply modafinil tablets; and must prove to the GPhC that the pharmacy and prescriber have appropriate indemnity insurance in place by November 8.

Two of Instant E-Care's premises – both in Cardiff – have been instructed not to supply modafinil tablets, antidepressants, oral antibacterial drugs, or salbutamol inhalers.

Protecting patients online

In September, the regulator announced it had restricted three online pharmacies from dispensing high-risk medicines, after identifying “serious patient safety concerns”.

The GPhC previously said it is working with different organisations involved in regulating online pharmacies and other digital health services to improve the quality of care for patients online.

What do you make of the GPhC's findings?

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

WTF are these students going to do if they can't get their Mods off the internet?! Probably pretend to have ADHD and get Concerta.

R G, Pharmacist Director

Why are the relevant PCTs / CCGs permitting these NHS contracts to continue providing any services at all! Surely these pharmacies can either comply with thier "NHS" dispensing contract or they cannot. There is no grey area allowed. Imagine the outcry if other contractors refused to supply NHS medicines that were losing them money due to supply problems or not being able to purchase generic drugs at or below DT price? NHS authorities would soon clamp down on that practice with threat of removing the dispensing contract. 


By definition, if a pharmacy is unfit to supply one medicine it is unfit to supply any medicine at all surely? Same goes for the online doctor part of these companies.

If a service is bad enough not to be allowed to supply/prescribe "modafinil tablets, antidepressants, oral antibacterial drugs, or salbutamol inhalers" it shouldn't be running at all in my view.

Caroline Jones, Locum pharmacist

Again the GPhC gives the 'impression' that it is actually on the ball when in actual fact they are way behind the ball and only restricting these places after the fact. Surely these online drug dealers should be made to prove they comply with ethical standards BEFORE they can operate and the GMC and GPhC should collaborate to achieve this to the safety and benefit of all.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

This just shows that distance selling pharmacies can only be profitable if they trade in dubious pharmaceuticals on prescriptions written by their own dubious prescribers. I have never seen a single prescription for modafinil in 30 years of being a pharmacist.

John Cleese, Production & Technical

Do you really mean "distance selling pharmacies"? Or do you actually mean "online doctor services"? Even if you do, it's still a sweeping generalisation, and an incorrect one.

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