Patient safety concerns relating to online prescribing services

We are reminding pharmacy owners and pharmacy professionals that they need to make sure they meet our standards and follow our guidance for providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet, whenever they provide online pharmacy services.

Our inspectors are continuing to identify serious patient safety concerns relating to registered pharmacies dispensing of prescription-only medicines from prescribers based in the EEA working alone or for third-party online prescribing service using online questionnaire-only based models. 

Our Director of Insight, Intelligence and Inspection, Claire Bryce-Smith, has written to organisations representing pharmacies and pharmacy professionals to highlight these patient safety concerns and to ask the organisations to help us to remind their members and networks of the importance of meeting our standards and following our guidance.

Claire’s letter highlights that since April 2019, we have taken enforcement action against over 40 pharmacies linked to their provision of online pharmacy services.  The majority of these pharmacies were working with online prescribing services that were prescribing medicines which are liable to abuse, misuse and overuse to people, on the basis of an online questionnaire. The pharmacists involved have also been referred for Fitness to Practise investigations.

Read Claire’s letter to pharmacy organisations here. [PDF 157 KB]