UK: Pharmacy Brief - June 2011

Last Updated: 3 June 2011
Article by David Reissner

Manchester Event

The CR Pharmacy Team will be taking to the stage again on 12 July 2010. We will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Has pharmacy law kept pace with technology?
  • Pharmacy transactions and TUPE
  • Competition law issues in pharmacy transactions
  • Regulatory update

The conference is free, subject to availability. To reserve a place, contact stephanie.palmer@charlesrussell.co.uk.

European-Qualified Pharmacists

The Medicines Act says that a pharmacist who qualified in Europe cannot be the responsible pharmacist at a pharmacy that has been registered for less than 3 years. We have often pointed out that this restriction is dotty. It would stop a pharmacist who has worked at a pharmacy for 20 years from being in charge if the pharmacy relocated to new premises in the same street.

The Government has now announced it will lift the 3-year restriction - which is almost certainly in breach of European law - though it has not announced when the change to UK law will be made.

Mail Order Applications Refused

Some PCTs have hit on a new wheeze for turning down applications for NHS pharmacy contracts that rely on the exemption for distance selling.

All applicants for contracts must undertake to provide essential services. Under the distance selling exemption from the necessary or expedient test, essential services may not be provided to patients who are on the pharmacy premises. That usually means delivering medicines to patients' homes.

Some PCTs have decided that unless an applicant can give assurances that a cold chain is available for thermolabile medicines, and that controlled drugs will be delivered to patients, then an application must be refused. The Family Health Service Appeal Unit has upheld this approach. We can provide advice for applicants or objectors.

Struck Out

One of the latest disciplinary cases to reach the courts - not one of ours - was a challenge to the referral of a complaint to the RPSGB by a pharmacist's employer. The pharmacist sued the employer and the RPSGB under the Protection from Harassment Act, arguing that the Society could not investigate a contractual dispute. Whether or not the nature of the dispute warranted investigation by the RPSGB, the High Court held that the RPSGB had power to consider the allegations. The pharmacist's case was struck out.

Fair or Foul?

It seems PCTs are getting increasingly desperate to save money, and are using fair means or foul to achieve their aim. A PCT recently wrote to one of our clients telling him that, since the PCT believed that our client was not procuring specials from the cheapest supplier, the PCT was withdrawing the commissioning of all enhanced services from our client's pharmacy. We wrote to the PCT, pointing out that it was acting unlawfully - a public body should not use its powers for an improper purpose (to force our client to procure specials in a certain way). The PCT backed down and agreed that our client's pharmacy can continue to provide enhanced services to meet the needs of patients.

Fitness to Practise

On receipt of an NHS pharmacy application, the superintendent received this question from the PCT:

Also, I note the regulations require Primary Care Trusts to obtain information "on chronological details of his professional experience (including starting and finishing dates of each appointment), with an explanation of any gaps between appointments..."

I note from your comprehensive professional experience sheet that there is a minor gap between the period August 1972 to October 1972. I realise this is a small period but would be grateful if you could provide information on the reason for this gap for my members who will consider your fitness to practise shortly.

No one could accuse the PCT of failing to take fitness to practise seriously. The Superintendent: replied:

"During this period (September 1972) I was on holiday. Since this is nearly 39 years ago, I do not have any surviving records. To the best of my recollection, the holiday was spent in Scotland touring and staying in Kent with my now deceased ex mother-in-law. Since there are no living witnesses to verify this, I trust this explanation is satisfactory."

It's a Deal

Our Pharmacy Transactions Team headed by Tim Jenkins has seen a very active two months with a large number of new instructions for both sales and purchases. Completed transactions handled by the Team over the period include:-

  • Acting for the shareholders of The Shelley Road Company Limited (operating a West Sussex based health centre pharmacy) on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to Worthing Pharmacies Limited (sale brokered by Orridge Business Sales);
  • Acting for Tamrush Limited on its purchase of the entire issued share capital of London based 3 branch pharmacy operator BR Lewis Chemists Limited
  • Acting for regional pharmacy operator Pharma-Z Limited on its purchase of East Anglia based Read's Pharmacy from Read's Pharmacy Limited

Our understanding of pharmacy businesses enables us to offer a competitively priced, added value, full service for clients both large and small and whether buying or selling companies, pharmacy partnerships or sole trader businesses.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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