GPhC reminds pharmacists and owners of online pharmacies of responsibilities
The General Pharmaceutical Council has written to the owners of online pharmacies and pharmacists working for them to ensure they are meeting its regulatory standards.
The regulator also contacted individuals whose pharmacies have the voluntary internet logo across the UK to make them aware of the types of patient safety concerns it is looking into.
The GPhC said more than 30 per cent of open fitness-to-practise cases involve online pharmacy, saying this was “a disproportionate amount compared to other pharmacy service providers".
The types of concerns the GPhC is investigating include medicines being prescribed to patients only on the basis of an online questionnaire without direct interaction between the prescriber and the patient or their GP, prescribing of high-risk medicines or treatments that require monitoring without adequate safeguards, prescribing of medicines outside the prescriber’s scope of practice and prescribers issuing high volumes of prescriptions in a short space of time.
The GPhC said that since March, it has imposed seven interim orders on the registration of pharmacists who were working as independent prescribers for online providers or were dispensing medicines online. Some of those were the responsible or superintendent pharmacist.
Some received interim suspensions or conditions on their registration as FtP investigations continue and the GPhC said it has “a number” of other ongoing investigations into pharmacists who work for online services. It urged pharmacists to meet its standards for pharmacy professionals at all times.
The GPhC told online owners to ensure their prescribing models support prescribers to make decisions in line with those standards as well as its guidance for pharmacist prescribers and meet its standards for registered pharmacies and guidance for registered pharmacies that provide pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet.