On 16th April 2019, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) published updated guidance for pharmacy owners providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet, to help make sure people can obtain medicines safely online. The update follows a consultation which sought views on strengthening the guidance and proposals to do so received strong support overall from more than 800 individuals and organisations.
The updated guidance introduces further safeguards in the following key areas:
These safeguards include making sure the prescriber proactively shares all relevant information about the prescription with their GP after seeking the patient’s consent.
Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council said:
“We support pharmacy services being provided in innovative ways, including online, as long as the services are safe and effective for people. But providing pharmacy services online carries particular risks which need to be successfully managed."
“People can be put at serious risk if they are able to obtain medicines that are not appropriate for them. We are now putting in place this updated guidance with further safeguards to protect people."
“I would strongly urge patients and the public wanting to obtain medicines online to only use online pharmacies registered with us, to protect their health. These pharmacies have to meet our standards and follow this guidance, so they provide safe and effective services, and we will be inspecting pharmacies to make sure this is the case."
“We are also continuing to work closely with other regulators involved in regulating online primary care services, governments and other stakeholders across Great Britain to improve the quality of care for patients online.”
The GPhC are writing to pharmacy owners and pharmacy professionals to make them aware of the new guidance and to ask them to consider what actions they may need to take in response.
In response to the publication of the guidance, Liz Fidler, President of APTUK said:
“With new technology and innovation, pharmacy is adapting and changing the way in which services are provided. It is essential that any advancement is risk assessed and maintains or enhances safe, effective and person-centred care. APTUK welcomes the updated guidance which strengthens the advice to pharmacy professionals providing services at a distance. Everyone in the pharmacy team, including pharmacy technicians, should understand the guidance and be aware of their responsibilities to follow it. APTUK encourages patients and the public to keep safe when using online pharmacies and promotes to service users to only use those pharmacies registered with the GPhC.”
For further information and to view the Guidance, please click on the link below: