Distance Selling Pharmacy FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions we receive and answer about distance selling pharmacies...

What is your success rate with distance selling pharmacy applications?

As of 2021, we have a 100% success rate in regards to both our applications and appeals.

With regards to the online doctor, I can see two possible pathways. One is to have a GP to instant message any patients who fail to pass the risk assessment form to see whether or not they can get the medication. The other route was if we are doing cholesterol, vitamin deficiency tests etc then the patient can have a private consult with a GP and then prescribed the private medication.

Both are fine. The former is easier from a technological point and might be a good place to start a lean startup.

Can I open a DSP in Scotland?

This is not possible unless you associate with a brick and mortar. If you associate you need to be VERY careful the partner doesn't watch you grow and then cut your lumber for himself. See more information here.

Do GPhC licensed pharmacies need Care Quality Commission Governance SOPs or is that irrelevant to us?

No, however to some this is seen as the origin of best practice for clinical governance of prescribing organisations.

Can you have the same Superintendent pharmacist for two locations of the same distance selling pharmacy organisation?

Yes. You can set up multiple locations inside the Team Builder function on the hubnet.io. However, If you are a Superintendent of one pharmacy organisation you cannot be a Superintendent of another at the same time.

Under what pharmacy licence do distance selling pharmacies dispense medicines?

All pharmacies in the UK are registered with the GPhC. This enables them to stock medicines to dispense against a prescription. By default, all pharmacies can dispense against a private prescription, however, the vast majority of prescriptions created in the UK are from NHS GPs. To be able to dispense NHS prescriptions not only must you be registered with the GPhC you must also be registered with the NHS. To register with the NHS is considered more difficult as you would need to demonstrate a pharmaceutical need in the area that you serve.

Can I open a Distance Selling Pharmacy in my house?

The only restrictions stipulated by the GPhC of where you can open a DSP is not on the same site or building as a provider of NHS primary medical services (e.g. a doctor’s surgery or NHS dentist). It is not considered Best Practice to open a pharmacy in your house however it is permissible under the guidance. The majority of DSP applicants use warehouse type properties situated on industrial estates.

What would a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) be in the context of an NHS Licensed Distance Selling Pharmacy?

The MVP for an NHS licensed DSP is a service which provides all Essential service (have a look at the PSNC site: https://psnc.org.uk/services-commissioning/essential-services/) and Advanced services (https://psnc.org.uk/services-commissioning/advanced-services/). The only services which would not be in the MVP are the Enhanced Services which are often commissioned via your local government (https://psnc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/NHS-England-Pharmacy-Enhanced-Services-QA.pdf). It may be after the MVP your local CCG or council commission an Enhanced service in your locality which may be required for the business to service. 

If an MVP service provision was created what are the minimum supplier requirements?

1 main and then multiple backups. There are some items that the NHS want you to dispense however certain suppliers have monopolies of access. These are called “exclusive distributor” or ‘direct to pharmacy’ arrangements. Essentially this means, your business team needs to make accounts with the main wholesalers to ensure you can get stock of the 300+ lines, these companies include:

  • Alliance Healthcare
  • AAH 
  • Phoenix
  • Mawdsleys 
  • Sigma

After the accounts have been established, a deal needs to be struck with one of them to be your main supplier. This is done on the basis of projected volume and monthly spend. Lastly, when your main wholesaler fails to deliver the item that you want you have two choices:

a. Cascading the order to your next preferred wholesaler.
b. Use a price comparison tool, this will scan the market for the best price. This is considered the more modern, cost effective way to deal with this.

With the DSP license and associated NHS license should I add a MHRA WDA aswell?

A Wholesale Dealers Authorisation is essentially a license given by the MHRA to organisations that would like to wholesale medicines in the UK. The best way to think of this is in the context of the flow of medicines in the UK:

i. Doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, physiotherapist, podiatrist, paramedic, optometrists or therapeutic radiographer prescribe a medicine under the jurisdiction of the Care Quality Commission or the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
ii. The prescription is sent to a pharmacy registered with the GPhC.
iii. The pharmacy buys the medicine from a wholesaler registered with the MHRA as a WDA.
iv. This wholesaler, most probably has bought the medicine from another wholesaler that has a WDA or equivalent in another country.
v. This wholesaler has purchased the medicine from source, a factory which has the approval from the MHRA to sell into the UK supply chain.
In the context of a pharmacy having a WDA might be beneficial as it could cut out the middle person WDAs. For instance, Boots own a factory in India that makes paracetamol. This is then sold to Boots WDA license, importing the medicine to the UK, this again is then sold to Boots GPhC license which then sells it to the NHS.



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