Responsible Pharmacist

The law about how retail pharmacy businesses are governed is set out in legislation, including the Medicines Act.

In October 2009 the law was changed. The Medicines Act 1968 was amended and the Medicines (Pharmacies) (Responsible Pharmacist) Regulations 2008 came into force. The changes introduced the role of the Responsible Pharmacist (RP), in connection with the lawful conducting of a retail pharmacy business.

The owner of a retail pharmacy business must appoint a Responsible Pharmacist who is a registered pharmacist, to be in charge of the registered pharmacy. The RP’s role is to secure the safe and effective running of the registered pharmacy when it is operational. The pharmacy owner must ensure that there are arrangements in place for an RP to be appointed.

There are legal requirements (in the Medicines Act 1968, as amended, and the Medicines (Pharmacies) (Responsible Pharmacist) Regulations 2008)) associated with the responsible pharmacist role including:

  • displaying a notice that gives the details of who the RP is

  • making and keeping records;

  • pharmacy procedures; and

  • the responsible pharmacist’s absence from the pharmacy.

For further information on the legal requirements that apply, pharmacy professionals can refer directly to the legislation, to professional leadership organisations (such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK) and pharmacy organisations (such as the National Pharmacy Association), or should seek their own legal advice.

Guidance on the requirements for the role of the responsible pharmacist was published by the Department of Health in 2009 which can be viewed in the National Archives here.

The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing the law in this area. It has established a Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board to review pharmacy legislation and regulation. More information can be found on the Department of Health’s website here.