UK: Pharmacy Brief - December 2012

Last Updated: 5 December 2012
Article by David Reissner

Self-Selection of P Medicines

Despite a determination not to regulate pharmacy premises till late 2013, the GPhC has announced that it will not permit the self-selection of P medicines now, though it will do so when it has further powers. If you missed David Reissner's C&D article on why self-selection should be permissible and left to the professional judgement of pharmacists, ask us for a free copy.


New GPhC premises standards look for a culture change in pharmacy. Key points include:

  • Pharmacies should clearly define the roles and accountabilities of the people involved in providing and managing services
  • There must be a culture of openness, honesty and learning
  • Staff must be empowered to raise concerns
  • Incentives must not compromise professional judgement
  • Pharmacy services must be accessible to patients and the public
  • Even non-registered premises used to store medicines must comply with the Standards

CRB Checks

Following a change in the law, pharmacists and other registered healthcare professionals will need enhanced CRB checks. However, the change in the law is not expected to come into force till an unspecified date in 2013.


Even though the exemption in the Medicines Act that allowed pharmacists to sell small quantities of medicines without a wholesale dealer's licence was abolished in August, the issue came before the High Court in October. The MHRA had suspended the licence of Blackbay Ventures Limited (part of the Chemistree group). Blackbay had been buying medicines from pharmacies that did not have a wholesale dealer's licence. Blackbay argued that since they had both a wholesale dealer's licence and a pharmacy business, they could buy as a pharmacy. The High Court rejected Blackbay's arguments. Blackbay argued that pharmacies that do not have a licence could give assurances that they had observed the same standards as a licensed wholesaler. However, Mr Justice Supperstone held that if purchases were made from pharmacies without a licence, the integrity of the supply chain would be lost. The judge also pointed out even if pharmacies without licences gave assurances that they had complied with the same standards that wholesalers had to meet, there was no power to enforce such assurances because the MHRA only has power to inspect wholesalers' premises.

100-hour Pharmacies - PCTs that broke the Law

The law has not yet finished with 100-hour pharmacies. When the Department of Health belatedly put a stop to 100-hour pharmacy applications in September, it imposed an arbitrary cut-off date. A number of PCTs, anticipating this, apparently deliberately broke the law by failing to process applications even though they were legally required to do so as soon as practicable. As a result, applications validly submitted more than 4 months before the new Regulations came into force became void. We are now pursuing claims for substantial damages.

The Drug Tariff and the Law

Acting for CPNI in Northern Ireland, we have successfully obtained orders for judicial review on two occasions, following severe cuts to fees and reimbursement prices. Most recently, Mr Justice Treacy held that the fees and prices had been determined unlawfully because the Minister had failed to carry out a cost of service inquiry, margins survey or regulatory impact assessment.

At the time of going to press, the case is about to be considered by the Court of Appeal and we hope to receive the judgment early in the new year.

Fitness to Practise

Look out for the new edition of Dale and Appelbe's Pharmacy and Medicines Law, due in Spring 2013. David Reissner has contributed to the chapter on Professional Conduct and revised the chapter on Fitness to Practise to reflect all the changes in GPhC procedures. We not only help clients facing GPhC complaints, but we can also give advice to help avoid fitness to practise problems arising.

It's a Deal

Our Pharmacy Transactions Team has seen a very busy period with work including :-

  • Acting for Hywel and Margaret Evans on the sale of Magawell Ltd (operator of two healthcentre pharmacies in Llanelli Wales) to Brentmark Ltd (sale brokered by Hutchings Consultants)
  • Acting for Westcliffe Medicines Ltd on purchase of Lloyds pharmacy branch (operating within Poole Road Medical Centre Bournemouth)
  • Acting for Appletree Healthcare Ltd on its purchase of Crailmay Ltd (operator of London based pharmacy) (sale brokered by Hutchings Consultants)
  • Acting for Philip and Sarion Harris on sale of Bassil Ltd (operator of Southampton based pharmacy) to Pillbox Chemists Ltd (sale brokered by Christie & Co)
  • Acting for Total Medcare UK Ltd on purchase of Total Medcare Ltd and sale of Swinford UK Ltd (internet pharmacy 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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