Online prescription business Pharmacy2U has hit back at opponents for stifling innovation to protect their own commercial interests.
Pharmacy2U argued that Pharmacy Voice's concerns over the online pharmacy's latest venture with GPs were fuelled by a "vested interest in maintaining the status quo", in a letter sent to the Department of Health (DH) on Friday (July 4).
The comments came in response to a letter written by Pharmacy Voice, PSNC and the BMA to the DH about prescription direction on Thursday (July 3). In the joint letter, the three bodies pointed to Pharmacy2U's scheme, which offers GPs a share in a repeat prescription service, as an example of the dangers in the market.
Pharmacy2U managing director Daniel Lee said - in a letter copied to C+D - that he was disappointed to see PSNC and the BMA being "drawn into" the debate. Commercial arrangements between GPs and pharmacists were "nothing new", he stressed, and the online pharmacy's GP-ownership model was based on patient choice rather than prescription direction.
Mr Lee accused Pharmacy Voice of acting simply to protect its own commercial interests. By stifling innovation, the body was maintaining the dominance of multiples in the community pharmacy market, he said.
"Pharmacy should not be a monopoly and competitive threats have to be responded to with improved services and a more patient-centred approach to treat the unknowing unwell," Mr Lee argued. "Pharmacy has been for too long sleepwalking from a contractor[-led] to corporate-led profession, with reducing income and job satisfaction."
Pharmacy2U was "committed to modernising pharmacy" and continued to provide excellent care to its patients, he stressed. Instead of concentrating on Pharmacy2U, Mr Lee urged the DH to look at practices in the wider pharmacy market, which included "very spurious" schemes linking rent for surgery pharmacies to prescription income.
Pharmacy2U previously came under fire for its direct marketing to patients, which was branded misleading by pharmacists and GPs, in August.