UK: Pharmacy brief - March 2013

Last Updated: 12 March 2013
Article by David Reissner

London Pharmacy Conference

The CR Pharmacy Team's annual conference will be held on 30 April 2013 at our London office. Presentations will include:

  • Commissioning issues and the roles of Monitor and the Co-operation & Competition Panel
  • Recent planning issues affecting community pharmacy including uses and GP premises
  • A case study –when non-specialists handle a transaction – "Hypromellose lawyers": will it all end in tears?
  • Regulatory update – including new market entry, the Francis Report, self-selection of P meds and the BBC's Inside Out programme

The conference is free, subject to availability. To reserve a place, contact

Wholesale FAQs

A paragraph on wholesale dealing in the last issue of the Pharmacy Brief prompted several questions. Here are some examples:

Q Is it right that a pharmacy owner with a wholesale dealer's licence may buy medicines from another pharmacy owner only if the seller has a wholesale dealer's licence?

A Yes.

Q Can the holder of a WDL buy medicines from dispensing doctors?

A A licensed wholesaler cannot buy from a dispensing doctor unless that doctor has a wholesale dealer's licence. Moreover, dispensing doctors may not sell medicines by wholesale unless they have a wholesale dealer's licence

Q I have one pharmacy (A) with a WDL and one (B) without (due to space restrictions). I am aware that my MHRA licensed pharmacy (A) may only purchase stock from a WDL holder or manufacturer. However, I can find no guidance on whether it is legal or not to purchase stock at my unlicensed pharmacy (B) and transfer it (intercompany) to the licensed one (A) from where it is wholesaled to customers.

A The judge made it clear in the recent Blackbay Ventures case that the law governing wholesale dealing does not prevent a business transferring stock between its pharmacy and wholesale sides. However, since you have a WDL, you must still observe the requirements imposed on licence holders regarding handling, storage and transportation.

Not Guilty Verdict

We have recently acted for a client accused of fraud. It was alleged that he made a representation to a patient about the government putting medicine prices up in order to get more money for over -the- counter medicines. Our client denied the allegation and at the Crown Court we were able to show that there was no evidence that he had made that representation. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and our client was awarded his legal costs.

Northern Ireland Judicial Review

Acting for CPNI (the Northern Ireland equivalent of PSNC), we succeeded in overturning the Health Department's decisions to slash fees and reimbursement prices in 2011. The Department appealed against a ruling that the Minister could not properly have decided that prices and fees in the NI Drug Tariff would secure fair and reasonable remuneration without first undertaking a cost of service inquiry, margins survey and a regulatory impact assessment. The appeal was to have been heard by the Court of Appeal in December 2012. However, at the last minute, the Department dropped its appeal. By this time, the Department was already carrying out a cost of service inquiry and margins survey. The Department agreed to release money to contractors, and CPNI agreed not to insist on a regulatory impact assessment being carried out.

Market Entry

The first decisions under the 2012 market entry regulations have now been published - and we are now involved in the first appeals.

It is too soon to identify trends in decisions, but PCTs are plainly confused about whether to use the 2005 Regulations or the 2012 Regulations. In one case, a PCT wrongly used the 2012 Regulations to allow a minor relocation. What's more, the decision letter gave no reasons - even though giving reasons is a requirement of both Regulations.

In another case, a PCT wrote to a client to say they would determine an application under the 2005 Regulations, and then published a decision that referred to the 2012 Regulations.

NHS Co-operation and Competition Panel

We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries about the activities of GPs. These include allegations of directing prescriptions; about disparaging comments made by GPs concerning pharmacy businesses; and potentially anti-competitive practices. We have been in contact with the NHS Co-operation and Competition Panel. Under the NHS reforms, the Panel will become part of Monitor and will have a role in regulating competition.

The NHS Co-operation and Competition Panel has expressed interest in having more information about cases in which the direction of prescriptions is alleged or other potentially anti-competitive conduct by GPs. We will be happy to review and pass on any information, which should be emailed to

It's a Deal

Our Pharmacy Transactions Team has seen a busy period for new instructions since our last edition both sales and purchases and including the acquisition of a number of "ordinary hour" PCT Consents (pre-trading). Transactions concluded include :-

  • Acting for CSPC (Pharmacy) Limited on the sale of Cheltenham pharmacy to Opal Pharmacy Limited
  • Acting for PB Pharma Solutions Limited on the sale of a PCT consent (pre-trading) for premises in Suffolk to the Day Lewis Group
  • Acting for Richpharm (London) Limited on the purchase of Surrey based Spivack Chemist from KSC1 Limited
  • Acting for Burrage Limited on its acquisition of NHS Contract (pre-trading) and lease for new pharmacy at The Woolwich Arsenal in London from Medicx Pharmacy Limited and Medicx Properties V 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. We can also offer a one-stop service by bringing in valuation and other expertise – for further details click here OSS.

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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