Mail order medicine ruffles feathers

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Julian Harrison Julian Harrison

Fears have been raised over a private pharmaceutical company that sent out letters claiming it worked directly with doctors – though local GPs had no contact with them.

Letters were sent to residents across the borough by Pharmacy 2 U, advertising the NHS electronic prescription service that delivers to patients’ homes so they do not have to visit a pharmacy.

Andy Ganf, from Eel Pie Island, ordered medicines but queried the system when his drugs did not arrive on time, so spoke to his doctors, Acorn Group Practice, who had no contact with Pharmacy 2 U.

He said: “The letter is in blue and it said NHS in various places so you don’t question it. “I think I’m pretty savvy and I didn’t notice.”

Mr Ganf also spoke to C Goode Pharmacy in Twickenham, that has provided him with prescriptions for the past 10 years.

Petra Zajicova, manager at C Goode Pharmacy, said the service was legitimate and it was up to people where they wanted to buy prescriptions from.

She said: “A lot of our customers have been quite upset and brought the letter back to us and most of them would like to stay with us because if they need advice they can visit their pharmacy.

“It said they work with your doctors, but there is not a close relationship as they are claiming. It is a bit misleading.”

Pharmacy 2 U sends out letters to addresses from a mail database and adds the name of the practice closest to the person it is sent to, the head of NHS services has told the Dispensing Doctors’ Association.

There are 46 pharmacies in Richmond.

Terry Silverstone, chief executive of the Kingston, Richmond and Twickenham local pharmaceutical committee, said: “The concern is what this means for local patients. If patients need help with care they can pop into their local pharmacy or see their GP and we are concerned about anything that takes away services locally.

“Competition is something we are used to and is necessary because community pharmacies have always been in a competitive market.”

Julian Harrison, director at Pharmacy 2 U, said: “Patients can choose any registered pharmacy anywhere in England to dispense their medications.

“For instance, one that’s nearer to their home or place of work, or a mail order service such as ours. “The letter clearly states that it is from Pharmacy 2 U.”

The NHS said the company was working under NHS guidelines.

 

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