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RPS reviews membership following Pharmacy2U scandal

Ash Soni supports ICO's decision to fine company £130,000

RPS president Ash Soni says the organisation will look closely at members implicated in sale of patient data

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has pledged to review the membership of any of its members involved in Pharmacy2U’s patient data-selling scandal.

Pharmacy2U – the UK’s largest NHS-approved online pharmacy business – was fined £130,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for selling 21,500 patient names and addresses to a marketing company, the government’s privacy watchdog announced on Tuesday (October 20). 

Pharmacy2U managing director Daniel Lee “sincerely apologised” for the “regrettable incident”, which saw patient data sold to an Australian lottery company that the ICO said “deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable individuals”.

RPS president Ash Soni said the professional body will review the membership of any members “found guilty of wrongdoing” or subject to a complaint in relation to the incident through its membership committee.

The RPS "fully supports" the action the ICO took against the “isolated incident”, which Mr Soni stressed “does not reflect the wider profession”.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) told C+D it will “study” the ICO’s findings to see if it should take further action, and Mr Soni said the RPS is “pleased” that the regulator is “recognising the rightful concerns of patients and the public”.

“Disgraceful conduct”

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe branded the sale of Pharmacy2U's patient information “disgraceful conduct” and called for “swift and appropriate regulatory action” to be taken against anyone involved in such activities.

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott echoed calls for the data protection breach to be “vigorously investigated by the regulators”, and stressed that the guilty parties should be “punished appropriately”.

University of Birmingham deputy head of pharmacy Anthony Cox expressed concerns that the scandal could have a negative impact on the sector's calls for access to patient records. “Someone needs to throw the book hard at Pharmacy2U”, he wrote on Twitter.

Pharmacist Paul Gimson expressed similar concerns, arguing that the revelations “might hold [pharmacy] back” from gaining powers to amend patient records. The GPhC’s judgment on the case is “critical” and “will be a future indicator of the credibility of our profession”, he said.

A superintendent pharmacist posting on the C+D website as Kevin Pieterson labelled the scandal "as bad or worse" than the BBC's Inside Out investigation into illegal prescription-only medicines sales in pharmacies. Pharmacy2U's actions "did untold damage in the eyes of the public", they said, while pharmacist David Kent called for Pharmacy2U to be brought before the GPhC to "explain why they should remain on the register".


What impact will the Pharmacy2U case have on the sector?

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Niall Murray, Superintendent

Disgraceful conduct” Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe branded the sale of Pharmacy2U's patient information “disgraceful conduct” and called for “swift and appropriate regulatory action” to be taken against anyone involved in such activities Just taken from above. If indeed these words are verbatim then calling for regulatory action against anyone involved in such activities does seem to suggest anyone from here and onwards. Wouldn't it be much more congrous to state verbatim regulatory action to be taken directly against the wrongdoer Pharmacy 2U AND insist that all pharmacy bodies speak out against this to the GPhC but then there would be alot of hypocrisy and he/she who casts the first stone! We should not let this violation become another ephemeral story but seek a punishment that meets the crime.

Neeraj Salwan, Superintendent Pharmacist

As commented on earlier, this case as predicted will run and run until it turns into a farce. Take action now GPhC, listen to your membership- have the courage to set an example of a big fish as you do with less influential powerful sole trader pharmacies

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

you can make this up on the dailymail one page was about pharmay 2u scandel..the other page next to it was about how they are looking to prosecute former execs such as andy horby for the HBOS collapse.....

Niall Murray, Superintendent

To all previous issuers of posts: Well done on your candid & frank opinions on this matter. None of you can be accused of standing idly by doing nothing whilst the pernicious and nefarious neo-liberal idealogues march on regardless. I salute you one & all. Point very much worth amplifying here is who is possibly responsible for this categorical act of business dishonour and ignominy. To all pharmacists out there. Please, please we need to wake up. All across all strata of pharmacy and I mean the RPS, GPHC, multinationals etc this sort of activity is going on all the time and most of the time is concealed by lies. The same lies need subjugation of the health professional to be maintained. Our profession is moribund and we must desist from yielding to this hegemony. Left to RPS and GPHC very, very little will be done about this just watch the outcomes. £130k fine is insulting to the patients names revealed and reflects the real standardsof our profession. If I could offer Ash Soni and those at the GPHC more particularly, one piece of advice before going forward (if indeed he/they do go forward) consider the polite insistence of the truth i.e. satyagraha *This comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles.

Chris ., Community pharmacist


bilal hussain, Community pharmacist

Does anyone even care what the RPS do/say anymore? They're just a pretend body. The day they do something about the diminishing pharmacist wage is the day they'll be taken seriously.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Won't happen unless their salaries are threatened

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Won't happen unless their salaries are threatened

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

they will be fine trust me.......if an individual pharmacists did this though...struck off with immediate effect......

Chris ., Community pharmacist

Next, the BPSA will be giving their worthless opinion!!!!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

*This comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

[email protected]@k the RPS, nobody cares. What are the GPhC going to do?

max falconer, Superintendent Pharmacist

Don't let it be forgotten that P2U, RxSystems and EMIS share [some of] the same owners......... This post has been amended to comply with Chemist and Druggist's community standards.

Peter Badham, Superintendent Pharmacist

The whole conduct of Pharmcy2U has been totally unprofessional The fine was totally inadequate, £6 per person is a joke, it ought to have been £100 plus per patient, so over 2 Million, that would have sent the right message to other on line pharmacies. Phamacy2U denied the allegations, and then stated it was a trial. I do not think over 21,000 patients is a trial All of the directors should be taken off the GPC register with immediate effect and never allowed to practice again The whole profession has been seriously damaged because of their greed , they have breached the basis principles of trust *This comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles.

David Pattinson, Community pharmacist

Doctors-GPs who are registered officers of individual P2U(surgery name)llp companies- all registered at same address at companies house. They should have nothing to fear as long as they have had NO involvement in making patient details available to P2U, other than being guilty of having poor judgement.

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

I don't know what everyone is complaining about - it's a great place to buy Codeine Linctus without any awkward questions, bang in a couple of boxes of Phenergan and with next day shipping the stress of working in community Pharmacy is gone. Then to boot I find out that they've only gone and entered me in the bloody lottery - at no extra charge! If I win then I could be out of this hellhole for good! God bless Pharmacy2U - long may you continue to send out misleading leaflets to damage local independent pharmacies and manipulate ETP for many years to come.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist


David Moore, Locum pharmacist

So how many patients signed up to pharmacy2u thinking they were dealing with their local pharmacy? Some very dubious mail shots now this. Speaks volumes about the company.

Gaynor Devereaux, Locum pharmacist

My question is who gave Pharmacy2U the details about patients addresses and medication in the first place?

Stephanie Gallard, GP

You there Gaynor? would welcome a chat if you are.


Chris Mckendrick, Community pharmacist

Ha ha! I love a good wind up. Who have them the addresses and medication details? You're priceless!

Mahesh Sodha, Superintendent Pharmacist

What is crucial now is how the GPhc handles this. If they let the company off with a slap on the wrist then our profession's credibility is doomed.

Gavin Dobson, Academic pharmacist

On Twitter I asked @Pharmacy2U Why sell confidential patient details to lottery company that targeted elderly and vulnerable patients? But they have yet to reply.

Hackney Drug Dealer, Community pharmacist

As usual, the powers that be look on 'public image' rather than the suffrage already inflicted by any miscreants on the victims. This time, as it's the 'general public' P2U will be let off their RPSGB fees..... Big wow. *This comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles.

Patricia Ojo, Community pharmacist

What a pity! As the the profession makes strides, then comes this scandal. Unfortunately, pharmacy tends to be judged by the lowest common denominator. This needs to be dealt with swiftly before it impedes the progress of the profession at large.

Old Timer, Manager

Not sure being removed from RPS is any sort of punishment .

Call Me Cycnical, Senior Management

Bring the house down of them, exercise your muscle and close them down. There's plenty of community pharmacies and other reputable online distance selling pharmacies who dont sell patient data that would be happy to fill the prescriptions. They would be forgotten in a heart beat just like that other idiot who ripped off Royal Mail by understating the weight of his shipments. I cant even remember the pharmacy name.

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