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Poundland's response to Which? report 'completely inappropriate'

Poundland: Are critics suggesting we abandon our pricing position?
Poundland: Are critics suggesting we abandon our pricing position?

Numark has branded Poundland’s response to the recent Which? investigation into multipack sales of paracetamol as "completely inappropriate".

As part of its latest pharmacy investigation, the consumer charity sent undercover reporters into 42 pharmacies, supermarkets and discount stores, to attempt to buy four 16-tablet packets of regular paracetamol. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidelines limit sales to two packets per transaction, it noted.

"Worryingly, Poundland has a multibuy promotion, selling three 16-tablet packets of paracetamol for £1," Which? highlighted when it published its results on Saturday (February 17).

Explaining its multibuy strategy, Poundland told C+D: "We’re Poundland. Which means we sell most things for £1. That’s why we sell three packets together."

"If we sold one packet we’d have to call ourselves 33p-land," it added.

Numark director of marketing and development Mandeep Mudhar told C+D yesterday (February 20) that Poundland’s comments were "unbelievable".

"Presumably someone at the company thought they were being humorous and didn't realise that actually this is quite a serious medicine that has restrictions in terms of sales volumes," he said.

"It's just completely inappropriate for them to almost laugh about this, like it's a bit of a joke."

Lack of regulatory oversight

Mr Mudhar also took issue with Poundland’s retailing approach to potentially dangerous drugs, arguing the firm should not be allowed to sell medicines "without regulatory oversight".

In its investigation, Which? noted that Asda, Morrisons and Tesco "successfully implemented a two-packet maximum" when selling paracetamol.

"Supermarkets have implemented a system that prevents [buying large quantities of paracetamol] from happening, so why is Poundland or any other store of that kind allowed to?" Mr Mudhar asked.

"The whole idea of having [a] regulatory aspect within pharmacies is that they can intervene and use their discretion in terms of the professional element if someone is trying to buy a large amount."

"[Pharmacists are] trying to give good advice on the safe and appropriate use of medication, and then you have this completely unrestricted way of supplying and selling medicines through other outlets," he stressed.

"It just makes a complete farce of everything we're trying to do from a professional perspective, and it doesn't sit right with any of us in this profession."

Poundland: "Comment not meant as humour"

Responding to the criticisms, Poundland told C+D that it has "blocks" on its till systems that prevent customers from buying more than three packs of paracetamol.

"We’re Poundland; that means we sell the majority of items for £1. The comment wasn’t any attempt at humour," it added.

The retailer asked if its critics were suggesting it abandon its "pricing position – which is the bedrock of the business" – for "a key item" such as paracetamol, or increase its price "so we sell two packets for £1, which would be significantly more expensive than elsewhere".

"If they or anyone else who reads C+D has other suggestions as to how we can meet customers’ expectations that we sell paracetamol for £1, without overcharging, they should tell us," Poundland added.

In 2012, the MHRA criticised Poundland's multibuy promotions on analgesics and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society wrote to the retailer to ask them to stop its "disgraceful sales promotions".

You can read C+D's 2015 investigation into retailers breaching MHRA pain relief guidelines here.

What do you make of Poundland's comments?

Yo Palumeri, Community pharmacist

gsl medicine 48 tabs for £1 in single transaction totally legal and good value, no stupid questions from anybody no referral to the pharmacist and made to feel like a criminal -winner

What's not to like?

want more just put it through as another transaction simple no questions asked keep it up poundland



, Superintendent Pharmacist

Correct. A GSL medicine should be as cheap as possible without a nosey graduate shop assistant intervening. The USA model is better. Buy a smuch as you want.

So many times LLoyds have medicine promotions and multi-buys. What is the difference?

If someone wants to kill themselves, there are easier ways than Parcetamol.

This restriction is comical. Was not the legal maximum 100?

Rx 100 Paracetamol tablets BP.
Will you sell to the customer or insist on the prescription charge?
Where are your ethics here?
I say sell. Dr has given authority to have.

Brent Cutler, Manager

The basic issue here is ignorance of the law, anyone selling any kind of meds, even a garage should be regulated, if not then the MHRA are wasting their time putting in rules they can't monitor or enforce. If anyone ever bothered to have a proper look into this they would see that its money first and patient safety second

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

It's called lip-service. They know it's all about the money but have to be seen to be concerned and doing something so the public don't lose their rag.


CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

So what's new here. In the profession we have resolved to let people who never passed GCSE s to check and release prescription. So why panic about a few boxes of good old paracetamol when we are leaving Diamorphine in the hands of semi-illiterates. Poundland might as well join the gravy train , we all know Patient safety is just lip service or just plain old hot air. A conscientious Pharmacist prepared a 55page DOSSIER which was dismissed off hand and someone dares say to the world Pharmacy is concerned by safety. See what's happening on the shop floor and you realise Poundland is safer than registered Pharmacies. We just need to stop yapping and die quietly as a profession.

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

Dear editor please publish the response from MHRA, GPHC, RPS to this story.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Pharmacists, recognise that the monopoly to sell analgesics has long been broken. Give up. Don’t swim against the tide. 

Independant t Thinking Pharmacist , Locum pharmacist

So basically what we’re actually saying is that when it comes to sanctioning anyone other than pharmacies the RPS and the MHRA are basically a bunch of toothless eunuchs.  

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

And GPhC. Well said!

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Apparently the problem is rife...

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

The problem here is the law - which states that the largest pack size of paracetamol that shops without a pharmacist working in them can sell is 16 tablets, and that they can sell no more than 100 tablets in one transaction. Poundland are not in breach of the law. The MHRA then issue 'guidelines' advising that no more than two packs should be sold in any one transaction. Why would Poundland be interested in following MHRA 'guidelines'? They can't be sanctioned. They are following the letter of the law. Simple solution - forget guidelines, legislate effectively and punish those who break the law. Then there will be no problems. I'm sure Poundland are laughing - at the MHRA, Numark, C+D, etc - all the way to the bank!

Brian Austen, Senior Management

If Poundland really took the 'advice', 'best practice' to heart they could have sold packs of 2 for a pound and then given a multi-buy discount of 33 or 34p resulting in their same intended sale price per unit. It is done in retail businesses throughout the country every day. Its not difficult. 

mansour dadkhah, Superintendent Pharmacist

It's time to change the Medicine Act and not allow any medicine in any form to be sold anywhere except pharmacy, just like everywhere else in Europe. Why why why?

Brian Austen, Senior Management

The problem then is that you offer a monopoly on GSL medicines pushing prices up. I can get cold and sinus relief medicines in a shop for 78 pence that cost £2.50 or more in a pharmacy. I can get cough medicine in a shop for £1 that costs £3.50 in a pharmacy. You would be doing a diservice to the public by ripping them off!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Poundland will be about as scared of Numark's pronouncements as Boots are of the GPhC. In other words not in the slightest.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"If they or anyone else who reads C+D has other suggestions as to how we can meet customers’ expectations that we sell paracetamol for £1, without overcharging, they should tell us,"

First of all, do you have any training for the guys/gals on your tills, in handling these high risk medicines?? Are they able to stop the sale of more than said amount of packets to a single person?? I am sure you are aware that, the till resets when ONE transaction is over, without the person moving up the que?? I am sure you are also aware that the TILL does not recognise people but only transactions, which can be overridden (manager forced by an irate customer)

I have an idea !! How about, if you can't restrict the sales to not more than 2 packs at a time, then DON'T SELL!!!!! Simple. 

Pharmacy staff are trained to deal with the users and abusers. Also, we are well equiped with the knowledge to educate the consumers on the better use of these high risk medicines and suggest alternative advice in managing their condition, NOT JUST SELL CHEAP STUFF and laugh all the way to the bank !!!

Hope this clarifies.

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

You can by as many as you want at petrol stations, Costco, newsagents.... I mean this is senseless!!! Over regulation when there is no need - paracetamol is not a high risk medication...Oh wait someones trying to buy 3 packs of Pandol, dont worry staff I am coming to the rescue!!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The GPhC will assist you. Just give them a ring!

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

"If they or anyone else who reads C+D has other suggestions as to how we can meet customers’ expectations that we sell paracetamol for £1, without overcharging, they should tell us," Poundland added.

Sell 2 x 16 packs with something else, not another paracetamol product.

2 x 16 + sore throat lozenges.

2 x 16 + thermometer strip.

2 x 16 + child proof handy carry case.

Surely it's not that difficult.

They need to get with the program!

Wolverine 001 , Pharmacist Director

ohh come on seriously!!!! 3 packs of 16........ 

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