The pharmacy regulator is seeking views on proposed safeguards for online pharmacies.
New proposals aim to protect people who want to obtain medicines online, including opiates, antibiotics, asthma inhalers and Botox.
A discussion paper sets out how the General Pharmaceutical Council plans to strengthen guidance for online pharmacy operators. Proposals suggest certain categories of medicines that should not be prescribed and supplied online without contacting the patient’s GP. These medicines include:
- opiates and sedatives with a risk of misuse
- medicines or medical products for chronic conditions (including asthma and diabetes) and mental health conditions where ongoing monitoring is important
- non-surgical cosmetic medicinal products (such as Botox).
The discussion paper also seeks views about the safeguards to prevent inappropriate online prescribing decisions, for example, if a patient ‘fixes’ the consultation information, and when decisions do not comply with UK prescribing guidelines.
Responses can be made until Tuesday 21 August.
In a statement, the DDA emphasises the value of a personal human interaction when accessing medical help. DDA chairman Dr Richard West said: “Dispensing surgeries are the ultimate, local and responsive human service. This is something that online pharmacy can never achieve. Many also operate a home delivery service, which has contributed to the disproportionate number of outstanding ratings that dispensing practices receive from the Care Quality Commission.”
In a report on repeat prescriptions, Pharmacy 2U claims that online repeat medication ordering “saves money, time and valuable NHS resources”. It asserts that by 2039 there will be 231 million repeat prescription items.