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RPS1October 26 2015

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has indicated it could review the RPS membership status of pharmacists working for Pharmacy2U.

 

Last week, the Information Commissioner’s Office imposed a £130,000 civil monetary penalty Pharmacy2U after the online pharmacy business was found to have breached the Data Protection Act in the way it sold patient data for marketing purposes.

The RPS says that the pharmacy regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council is now investigating the case, which was first publicised in a report in the Daily Mail.

RPS president Ash Soni said: “Patients should be assured that pharmacists abide by the same strict laws of data protection and patient confidentiality as all health professionals. This isolated incidence of wrongdoing has rightly been investigated by the Information Commissioners Office. The RPS fully supports the action the ICO has taken against Pharmacy2U.

“This case does not reflect the wider profession who, in our view, take the protection of patient data extremely seriously. We are pleased the GPhC are also investigating this case, recognising the rightful concerns of patients and the public.

“The RPS will be reviewing the membership of any members who have been found guilty of wrong doing or are subject of a complaint through our membership committee.”

EMIS Health, a leading supplier of healthcare software and services and a minority shareholder in Pharmacy2U, said it had been extremely concerned when the matter was first reported. CEO Chris Spencer said EMIS Group has taken the ICO decision “very seriously indeed.

“The decision by Pharmacy2U to sell data was made without my personal knowledge or authority as a non-executive Pharmacy2U board member, or that of anyone at EMIS Group PLC. The decision to sell data was made by the executive day-to-day management team at Pharmacy2U. It was never discussed by the Pharmacy2U board, nor was that board consulted before the decision was made.”

He said the ICO’s report makes it clear that:

  • Pharmacy2U did not deliberately contravene the Data Protection Act; and
  • when it made the decision to sell data, Pharmacy2U did not have access to the now available information that could lead it to believe that some of the companies receiving the data could be involved in fraudulent activity.

“EMIS Group has always maintained the highest standards of patient confidentiality and data security. We note the ICO’s ruling and that Pharmacy2U is committed to taking comprehensive remedial action. This includes confirming that it will no longer sell customer data and moving to a proactive consent model for its own marketing.”

Pharmacy2U has issued an apology and amended its privacy policy in light of the ICO’s findings.

Links:

RPS statement

EMIS Health statement     

Today’s Pharmacist coverage of ICO civil monetary penalty

ICO announcement

Pharmacy2U statement

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