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Pharmacy shouldn’t ‘bury its head in the sand’ about Amazon threat

Government and community pharmacy shouldn’t “bury its head in the sand" when it comes to the threat from online pharmacies, former health minister Steve Brine has said.

Highlighting Amazon’s recent filing for a pharmacy trademark, Mr Brine said both Amazon and Pharmacy2U will “continue to exist”. It would be a “massive mistake of Blockbuster video proportions to pretend it ain’t so”, he added, speaking to the annual Sigma conference in Cebu, the Philippines on Monday (February 17).

Online retail giant Amazon submitted an application to trademark Amazon Pharmacy in the UK last month.

Those working in pharmacy and the wider NHS must recognise that they are operating in an environment where “money is not unlimited”, Mr Brine added, commenting on the current situation for the sector.

He stressed the importance of working in “partnership across primary care” and taking a coordinated approach to healthcare.

“Nuclear weapon” against community pharmacy

Appearing in a livestreamed video alongside Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee chief executive Simon Dukes, the former pharmacy minster discussed the five-year funding deal and the future of community pharmacy.

Mr Brine also addressed the 2016 funding cuts, expressing that he was “disappointed” in what happened, and that he saw the cuts as “a nuclear weapon at the very heart of community pharmacy”.

Controversial comments made on an episode of ITV’s This Morning that branded pharmacists “pretend doctors” are “ignorant nonsense”, Mr Brine said.

“We have to keep making the point about what you can do and that pharmacists are talented health professionals in their own right,” he added.

Follow @CandDEliza on Twitter to catch up with all the latest coverage from the Sigma conference in the Philippines.

Do you feel threatened by Amazon Pharmacy and Pharmacy2U?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It is definitely wise to keep an eye on a company with such a large amount of logistical and financial power. There definitely appears to be a wait-and-see vibe at the moment.

P M, Community pharmacist

amazon will be after pharmacy2u customer base , i cant see them buying them why would they ? they have there own version (pillpack) ..

he says we shouldnt rely on prescription volume .. however the goverment basically pushed money in this direction - money taken away as establishment payment and practice payments lost to an increase in professional fee per item dispensed.

reverse this and closures would stop and network of pharmacies will remain open and be able to deliver consumer facing services.



Leon The Apothecary, Student

But does the majority of the public really want public-facing services? I would respectfully argue that more people would rather have an Amazon-style delivery service, along with modern online solutions.

Traditional pharmacies are a dying relic, in my opinion.

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

from 2016  

Pharmacy minister Alistair Burt estimates that between 1,000 and 3,000 pharmacies will close because of the funding cut, according to an APPG report of a meeting with the minister published today (January 22).

Mr Burt used a meeting last week (January 13) to stress that pharmacies need to become less reliant on dispensing income, the APPG said. The minister told the APPG that those that rely heaviest on this income will feel the greatest financial "squeeze", it said.     so amazon will help the government achieve their target at last . they must be very disappointed that only a few hundred have closed.

Taranpreet Mundae, Locum pharmacist

Thank you for all your help Mr Brine. Thank you for telling us a storm is coming and then also thank you for reminding us we are in no way equipped to handle it. 

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

At the moment I feel more threatened by government policies and attitude towards pharmacy.

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