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COVID-19: Online pharmacies see rise in prescription nominations

Pharmacy2U and Echo saw a jump in EPS nominations last week
Pharmacy2U and Echo saw a jump in EPS nominations last week

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen electronic prescription service (EPS) nominations increase “significantly” for distance-selling pharmacies Pharmacy2U and Echo.

Pharmacy2U saw prescription nominations rise by 20,168 in the final week of March compared to the previous week, according to data published by NHS Digital last week (March 30).

This brought the total number of active EPS nominations for Pharmacy2U to 441,265 at the time the data was published, the highest number of any pharmacy in England.

C+D has contacted Pharmacy2U for comment.

Echo, which is owned by LloydsPharmacy, recorded the second highest increase during the  week ending March 27. A 7,568 rise in nominations brought Echo’s total number of active nominations to139,308 – the third highest in England.

There has been an “extraordinary demand”, with patient nominations “up significantly” since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Echo told C+D yesterday (April 1).

“The self-isolated, shielded and those just practising social distancing have seen this as an opportunity to explore online options and our demographic is shifting,” it added.

To cope with the increased demand, Echo is “currently recruiting” more staff.

“Like in bricks and mortar pharmacies, our pharmacists and teams are working extremely hard,” the company  said.

Has your number of EPS nominations increased recently?

Philip Wilkinson, Community pharmacist

pharmacy2u's nominations dropped this week, so can't be that good and no tv adverts everyday. Best not worry about online pharmacy services.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Hows about this for a conspiracy theory - covid-19 is a collusion between China and Pharmacy2U to bring down the west while hiking profits (and before anyone reports me - it's a JOKE!! Remember those? They were the funny bits of the day that we used to have many years ago before our souls were destroyed.)

Mark Ashmore, Superintendent Pharmacist

One local surgery that is part of a consortium of GPs has been nominating patients to their internet pharmacy without the patient's consent. One patient who is old and gets her meds in a MDS was shocked to get hers delivered in boxes from a strange pharmacy while another who specifically asked us to deliver her meds still got her nomination changed by the surgery.

Daneil Kumar, Locum pharmacist

We also seen massive increase in eps nominations. Some joint us becuase online pharmacies can not deliver for aleast another week and most already run out. Some patient recieved Loratadine 10mg instead losartan 100mg so they said they would not trust them again.

P M, Community pharmacist

read their reviews ... shockingly bad.. why does the gphc not close them down.

Angry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Because Gphc is focusing on locum rates 

C A, Community pharmacist

It's not their job to make sure large companies behave. Or at least that's their modus operandi.

Dave Downham, Manager

I'll just leave this here:

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

“The self-isolated, shielded and those just practising social distancing have seen this as an opportunity to explore online options and our demographic is shifting,”

Bollocks. Why ?? Read on --

1. There were patients who used to collect the scripts themselves and go to a Pharmacy of their choice. But, now the surgeries are working behind closed doors and stopped all incoming traffic. They have informed the patients to nominate any Pharmacy for sending the Rx by EPS. Now read the next point.

2. With major highstreet Pharmacies following the social distancing rules and allowing 1 person at a time, the waiting times have rocketted. Now readt the next point.

3. Many Pharmacies like the Shoe company (who already struggled with keeping scripts ready in time) have started charging for deliveries. Now read the next point.

4. With only 1 or 2 visits allowed per day for essential shopping, who on earth would like to stand in a Que (if it is not for the Loo Rolls) and be told to come back later??? Hence they have taken the option (as against the advice of Mr. R the solicitor in another article) of signing up with Online Pharmacies.

5. Its not just the Online Pharmacies, mind you. I know of many small independents where there have been a great increase in EPS scripts for those who had preffered the Big Boys. Now with no ther choice, they are back to their ever relient Indi.

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