UK: Pharmacy Brief - September 2011

Last Updated: 8 September 2011
Article by David Reissner

Responsible Pharmacists

We welcome the news that the Responsible Pharmacist Regulations are to be reviewed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. A key issue concerns claims that locums have turned up at pharmacies and been asked to sign in as responsible pharmacist retrospectively because dispensing had been carried out before the locum's arrival. Our analysis is that under the Medicines Act, it is necessary to distinguish between whether medicines are only prepared and dispensed before the RP arrives, or whether they are also sold or supplied.

  • If medicines are not sold or supplied, there is no need for a Responsible Pharmacist - it is the Superintendent Pharmacist who will be responsible for any dispensing. But if a pharmacist is not present to supervise any dispensing, dispensing will probably be unlawful unless the pharmacy has an assembly licence.
  • If sales or supplies are made (even GSLs), there must be a RP.
  • Even if it were possible for a RP to take responsibility for dispensing before he or she arrives at the pharmacy, it is difficult to operate such a system without the RP's prior knowledge because an RP is only permitted to be absent if the RP is contactable throughout the period of absence (unless another pharmacists is contactable to provide advice to the pharmacy staff).
  • If a pharmacist is unaware till arrival that he or she will have to sign in retrospectively, signing in may be ineffective because the pharmacist will not in fact have been in charge of the premises until arriving.
  • Any sale or supply of medicines that has been made before the pharmacist's arrival may therefore have been unlawful.
  • A newly arrived RP can become responsible for dispensing already done by checking and approving it.

Beware Fake Medicines - Caveat Pharmacist

The European Parliament adopted at the end of May a new Directive on Falsified Medicines. The Directive, which relates to fake medicines, must be incorporated into UK law (and into law in other EU States) within 18 months. It will require manufacturers to incorporate into medicines packaging features to verify the authenticity of medicines. Pharmacist will no doubt carry ultimate responsibility for checking each item supplied carries the anti-faking features adopted by each manufacturer. Manufacturers may be given a free hand in choosing authenticity features, so these may vary from product to product.

Online pharmacies will also have to carry an obligatory "trust mark" on their websites. A click on the 'trust mark' will link the user to an official national register with a list of all legally-operating pharmacies. If the user clicks again on the register, he should be linked back to the website of the legally-operating pharmacy.

Major or minor

No two geographical locations are the same, as demonstrated by recent appeal decisions on minor relocation applications:

Urban move of 1100 metres uphill (but not arduous) = minor

Urban move of about 800 metres downhill = not minor because the route was "not easy"

Urban move of 994 metres = refused because not in same neighbourhood, distance described as "at the upper end of what might be considered minor "

Move by appliance contractors of 3060 metres = refused because not in the same neighbourhood. Although no patients visited the existing premises and the business is a national one, supplying patients across the country by delivering to their homes, the Pharmacy Appeals Committee said that in terms of distance, appliance contracts should be treated the same way as pharmacies.

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 Lime Tree Company (Sussex) 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 the operator of a Dorset based pharmacy on its sale to a new pharmacy contractor (sale brokered by Hutchings Consultants Limited);
  • Acting for the shareholders of Oxfordshire based Jenner's Pharmacy Limited (retail and internet pharmacy provider and retailer of mobility aids) on the sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to L Rowland & Company (Retail) Limited (sale brokered by Alliance Valuers);
  • Acting for Lunts Pharmacies Limited on the sale (by way of joint venture) of its Oswestry based pharmacy to Caxton Pharmacy Limited (co-owned with TCS Health 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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David Reissner
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