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17 online pharmacies slapped with GPhC enforcement notices in 2019-20

The pharmacies must meet certain conditions in order to resume their normal dispensing activity

The GPhC restricted the practice of 17 online pharmacies in 2019-20 following concerns including unsafe working practices and their supply of high-risk medicines, C+D has learned.

The regulator placed conditions on 20 pharmacies between April 2019 and March 2020, 17 of which are online pharmacies, a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) spokesperson told C+D last week (August 3).

On November 12 last year, C+D reported that 12 enforcement notices had been served to online pharmacies between August and November 2019.

Between November 15 and the end of March this year, a further five online pharmacies had their services restricted by the GPhC, the regulator's spokesperson told C+D.

The pharmacies must meet certain conditions imposed by the GPhC before they are allowed to resume their normal dispensing activity.

Stop supply of controlled drugs

All five of the online pharmacies who have had their activity restricted by the GPhC since November 15 2019 were specifically told not to supply any or some controlled drugs.

My Doctor Now, which trades as SQ Invest Ltd (GPhC registration number 9011080), was asked not to “sell or supply any controlled drugs from Schedules 1 to 5”, according to the GPhC enforcement notice, which came into effect on November 15 last year. In its inspection report in November 2019, the GPhC said the pharmacy’s “working practices are not safe”.

Clinical Care Pharmacy (registration number 9010251) was also told by the GPhC not to “sell or supply any controlled drugs from Schedule 1 to 5… with the exception of supplying these medicines against a legally valid NHS prescription”, in the enforcement notice, effective since November 22 last year.

In the inspection report from the same month, the regulator said the business did not have “appropriate governance arrangements or risk management procedures in place in relation to the supplies it makes on behalf of the private online prescribing services”.

The same conditions that were imposed on the practice of Clinical Care Pharmacy were served to My Net Doctor, which trades as Maiden Consult Ltd (registration number 9010927), and the pharmacy’s working practices were also deemed to be “not always safe”. The enforcement notice is effective as of December 2 last year.

New Hall Lane Pharmacy (registration number 1116346) is a community pharmacy in Preston, Lancashire that also sells and prescribe medicines online. Following an inspection on January 23, it was served an enforcement notice on January 31 and told it “must not sell or supply any medicines” that contain either codeine, promethazine, modafinil or zolpidem, “except for supplies made in accordance with NHS prescriptions”.

It was also criticised for not being able to demonstrate “how it manages the risks associated with all its services”.

Meeting the GPhC requirements

The GPhC also served an enforcement notice to MedsOnline247 (registration number 9011257) on March 5, stating that it must not “sell or supply any controlled drugs from Schedule 1 to 5” and that the regulator had found “system-wide failures in the operation of the pharmacy which presents a serious risk to patient safety”.

A spokesperson from MedsOnline247 told C+D yesterday (August 6) that, since the pharmacy received the GPhC enforcement notice, it has taken steps to meet the requirements of the GPhC guidance.

“Our pharmacy has had our actions and improvements approved by the GPhC and we are submitting an application to have the enforcement action revoked,” they said.

C+D has also approached the other four online pharmacies that had conditions placed on their business after November 2019 for comment.

What do you make of the GPhC's findings?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

There's a lot to unpack with online pharmacies; the key to their success is a strong process and management, something that pharmacy is typically terrible at, and clearly evident with the GPhC's findings.

david williams, Community pharmacist

Declaration of interest!

However, the clue is in COMMUNITY pharmacy

Dave Downham, Manager 85% of naughty pharamacies are online, but online are a much lower % of all pharmacies. Surely this suggests that their GPhC fees should be significantly higher which could offset a reduction for High St pharmacies? Just a thought, Duncan, which might win you back a few friends.

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