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'Misleading' Pharmacy2U advertising reported to regulators

The GPhC had confirmed it is "reviewing the information" on the advertising
The GPhC had confirmed it is "reviewing the information" on the advertising

Representative bodies have reported a Pharmacy2U advertising campaign to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) for investigation over making “misleading claims”.

An advertising campaign, in which Pharmacy2U claims to be “paid less in NHS fees than an average high street pharmacy”, has been reported to the regulator by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp). 

In the campaign, it claims to have been paid over £9.5 million less in fees than high street pharmacies since April 2014, based on the cost to the NHS of fees per item.

C+D understands that NHS England does not pay Pharmacy2U any less and does not fundamentally treat it any differently from other pharmacies.

In a statement last week (September 25), the NPA said it had “asked for [Pharmacy2U’s] claims to be investigated, so that providers cannot benefit from misleading advertising of NHS services”.

“We regard the Pharmacy2U claim to have been paid £9 million less in NHS fees than ‘an average high street pharmacy’ as misleading,” the representative body added.

The NPA “believes that the claims made by Pharmacy2U may contravene GPhC standards” that require advertising to be “accurate, truthful and not exploitative of any lack of knowledge among the public,” it said.

The GPhC has confirmed to C+D that it is “reviewing the information” provided by the NPA in relation to Pharmacy2U’s advertising material.

C+D has approached Pharmacy2U for comment.

In addition to its initial statement, the NPA told C+D yesterday (September 29), that patients “should be able to make their choice of providers based on accurate information” and that this is an “important principle that needs to be upheld by the NHS and regulators”.

“Inaccurate or misleading claims about NHS services can undermine confidence in the NHS as well as impinging on fairness between providers,” the spokesperson added.

AIMp: Pharmacy2U is “flouting guidance”

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of AIMp, argued to C+D yesterday (September 29) that Pharmacy2U is “flouting guidance and previous rulings, angering not only hard-working community pharmacists who abide by the rules and professional standards, but – based on the feedback [AIMp has] received – members of the public too”.

AIMp has “raised issues about this with relevant regulators,” Ms Hannbeck added.

Numark managing director Jeremy Meader told C+D yesterday that: “Pharmacy2U’s presentation of the figures is a classic example of marketing foot-in-mouth. In effect, they are saying they do not – or cannot – provide the range of face-to-face patient care services and support people can access at local community pharmacies and which the NHS commissions because they make a difference to healthcare outcomes in our country.”

In 2018, Pharmacy2U was told by the Advertising Standards Authority to cease its adverts making claims about saving the NHS £300 million.

What do you make of the Pharmacy2U ad campaign?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'm just waiting for what Amazon do to penetrate the market. Think P2U is being aggressive with their marketing? Have a look at Amazon's historical methods.

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I would argue they cost the NHS more money. Currently it would appear that the Rx gets sent to P2U, P2U have a two week backlog so fail to supply the medication promptly, patient tries to phone them to see whats happening but can't get through, patient asks GP for another prescription to take to a local pharmacy as a result of the above, two weeks later original prescription arrives which in the case of acute items is wasted. Quite how P2U belives this saves the NHS money is beyond me!

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

P2U are doing a million items a month! This is what happens when you have idiots in charge at the top. The system 15 years back was never broken.

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

-The Christmas disaster in 2015.

-Selling patient's personal data.

-Deceitful letters to sign patients up and then holding their prescriptions hostage. (easy to do when you are not face to face with a patient).

- Multiple deceitful ads


GPhC doing a good job protecting the pension, sorry I mean public.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Well theyve already benefited from the advertisement. People saw it, then it got pulled, whats the GPHC going to do about it? Tell them off? LOL.... ouch. Im sure P2U are trembling about the consequences.... NOT.

Mr Anon, Community pharmacist

This article is about 5 years too late. P2U is too large for the GPhC to take on. They wouldn't have the money to initiate or maintain a full legal battle against P2U. But, if a pharmacist sells 2 packs of day nurse, all hell would probably break loose. 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Nothing will happen. GPhC have their hands full making sure Locums aren't making money hand over fist during the pandemic/

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'm not, Benie. Pretty sure you won't be either.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

No ! haven't you heard Locums are coining it in. Duncan had to put a stop to it. Patient safety is paramount of course. 60 flu jabs a day with no support is perfectly alright. Top profession is pharmacy, make sure your kids study pharmacy !!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Oh, you're such a comic!!

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Nothings going to change or be done. p2u are very safe regardless of what they do. GPhC is a dead organisation anyway. Wheels are turning. No one steering.

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