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DHSC to address concerns of prescription direction to distance selling pharmacies

DHSC to address concerns of prescription direction to distance selling pharmacies

April 19 2018 A government report has identified “strong evidence of prescription...

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  • Scotland sets out policy on improving workforce planning for primary care

    Scotland sets out policy on improving workforce planning for primary care

    Wednesday, 09 May 2018 16:12
  • DHSC to address concerns of prescription direction to distance selling pharmacies

    DHSC to address concerns of prescription direction to distance selling pharmacies

    Thursday, 19 April 2018 16:51
  • Study gives pointers on why patients are reluctant to disclose sexual orientation

    Study gives pointers on why patients are reluctant to disclose sexual orientation

    Thursday, 01 February 2018 11:35

a delivery man imageApril 19 2018

A government report has identified “strong evidence of prescription direction” by GPs to some distance selling pharmacies. The report could lead to a consultation over the need to amend the regulations around online pharmacy services, including looking at conflicts of interest.

Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care’s published its assessment of changes to pharmacy regulation and control of entry introduced in 2013. One aspect it looked at was the impact of distance selling premises (also known as distance selling pharmacies or DSPs).

It found that 46 had opened between November 2016 and December 2017, in addition to 16 other types of pharmacy opening for business, and there were a total of 343 DSPs registered at the end of November 2017.

During its post implementation review of the 2013 regulations five years on, the DHSC said concerns were raised “about vested interests resulting in the direction of prescriptions to a particular DSP for personal commercial gain.” 

Examples included “sudden drops in the dispensing volume at bricks and mortar pharmacies following the opening of a DSP located nearby, with a corresponding spike in prescriptions at the new DSP, the vast majority coming from a single general practice.”

The National Pharmacy Association said it “has long argued for tighter regulations and enforcement to curb prescription direction and we regard this review as a significant moment. 

“The first step to addressing a problem is to recognise that a problem exists – we are pleased that the government is finally waking up to the reality that the system is being abused.”

The DHSC’s review is considered likely to lead to a formal consultation on amendments to the 2013 Regulations. Specific recommendations in the DHSC report include:

  • to require DSPs to declare any vested or significant interests – including if any of the business owners or partners, are themselves, or have family members who are prescribers of NHS prescriptions dispensed by the DSP;
  • to require DSP contractors to maintain functional websites which detail how their services can be accessed nationally and their arrangements for the disposal of patient returned waste medicines;
  • NHS England to develop a complaints process to allow suspected breeches to be reported and investigated;
  • DHSC to consider how the development and roll out of the electronic prescription service and patient nomination processes could help mitigate prescription direction.

Links:
DHSC ‘The National Health Service (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2013’             
NPA statement

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