Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

More on-line pharmacies are to be introduced into England as part of a package of measures to make pharmacies more accessible. Until now an internet pharmacy could only be set up by an existing "bricks and mortar" pharmacy business.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton announced last week that, following a recommendation by the Office of Fair Trading and a subsequent public consultation, the government was proposing new rules to control the location of pharmacies.

While the bulk of the proposals relate to shopping centre pharmacies and one-stop primary care centres, the rules also allow for the automatic acceptance of applications to set up pharmacies that are wholly internet or mail-order based. The conditions are that: the pharmacy must provide a fully professional service; and the pharmacy must offer a full and prescribed range of services, as determined by the Department of Health.

Such services might include, according to the Department of Health, managing repeat prescriptions, helping patients get the best from the medicines they are taking, and promoting healthier lifestyles.

"We are determined to improve access to, and the choice of, pharmacy services and to encourage innovation and excellence so that community pharmacy is recognised as a key player in the provision of NHS services," said the Health Minister.