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GPhC mulls differentiated fees to cover cost of regulating online pharmacies

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The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is mulling over introducing “differentiated fees options to cover the increased regulation needed for online pharmacies.”

In papers published by the regulator ahead of its meeting on Thursday (December 9), it noted that with increase in number of online and distance-selling pharmacies, the regulation has become “potentially more complex and resource intensive.”

It highlighted that service provided by online pharmacies pose a high risk “in terms of professional care and professional standards”.

Only 63 per cent of the 187 inspections of online pharmacies since April 2019, met all standards, against the overall benchmark of 84 per cent, the GPhC said.

The independent regulator informed that swift enforcement action has been taken against 48 online pharmacies to address patient safety risks, including 40 conditions notices and 11 improvement notices.

Enforcement action has also been “against on-line pharmacies supplying higher risk medicines for private prescriptions”.

“We have also focused on the use of overseas prescribers outside UK regulatory oversight,” it said.

Besides considering differentiated fees options, GPhC is working to update its distance selling guidance to align it with our prescribing guidance.

It is working with other system regulators such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on issues pertaining to “how online pharmacy websites are set out, and how products/services are advertised.

To ensure a better outcome, GPhC is working with wholesalers to gather more information, at the same time exploring the possibility of utilising existing regulatory levers.

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