The Growing Trend Of UK Online Pharmacies
24 Nov 2017
UK Online Pharmacies - what has been fueling the growing popularity?
An online pharmacy is a private, professional and confidential service which provides an efficient healthcare service to patients quickly and effectively without the need of them visiting their GP. The main focus is to provide private prescriptions for patients over the age of 18 to help treat general conditions such as Acne, Heartburn, Asthma, amongst other conditions.
The popularity of using UK Online Pharmacies has risen due to the difficulty in getting a GP appointment and it has tried to lessen the burden of high volume requests for GP appointments on the NHS.
Due to technological advances most people prefer to use online services for healthcare in the UK as it is easier for them saving them the time of going to a local pharmacist or the hassle of booking a GP appointment making Online Pharmacies in the UK much more convenient and suitable to the patients needs who require a private prescription.
In relation to UK online pharmacies the most popular treatments for private prescriptions include Erectile Dysfunction (ED), Contraceptive Pill, Anti-Malaria, Hair Loss, Quit Smoking, Period Delay and Weight Loss amongst other conditions.
How Do UK Online Pharmacies Operate?
Some online pharmacies have different business models, some offer free consultations whilst others split up the costs into doctors consultation and treatments. All legitimate UK online pharmacies should request proof of ID or have an identification verification process. Consultations would vary depending on the type of the condition as some conditions would require more in depth consultation than others. Before the selecting the type of treatment an online diagnostic consultation is required to determine whether the patient is eligible to be issued a private prescription for the condition and treatment.
What are UK Online Pharmacy Guidelines?
The care quality commission are responsible for overseeing NHS and private healthcare providers in the UK including online pharmacies. Before digital healthcare providers can begin to provide healthcare services they must apply to the CQC and secure registration for the regulated activities they intend to deliver. The CQC stated that ‘Providers must satisfy CQC that the care and treatment to be provided will meet the requirements of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and its associated regulations. Online providers will be able to demonstrate how they secure patients confidential data. After registration then the healthcare provider will be subjected to a CQC inspection based on relevant key questions and legal requirements for online pharmacies. The key information requested from the CQC include the following
• Details about the services provided
• Results from patient feedback and information about how the provider has used these findings to improve its services
• Evidence of monitoring the quality of the services provided and examples of quality improvement activity
• Information about volumes of prescriptions and numbers of consultations in the last 12 months
• Lists of dispensed medications Any UK online pharmacy that is registered with the CQC must display a CQC logo on their website to show they are operating legally and are a safe and secure online pharmacy.
All legitimate UK Online Pharmacies must also be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC) and must adhere to NICE Guidelines (The National Institue for Health and Care Excellence).
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, which publishes guidelines in four areas. the use of health technologies within the NHS (such as the use of new and existing medicines, treatments and procedures), clinical practice (guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions, guidance for public sector workers on health promotion and ill-health avoidance, guidance for social care services and users.
The General Pharmaceutical Council is the body responsible for the independent regulation of the pharmacy profession within England, Scotland and Wales, responsible for the regulation of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises.
The Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry discovers, develops, produces and markets pharmaceutical drugs for use as medications. The online UK pharmacies which are legally registered are regulated on the basis that they sell genuinely branded medications which have been authorised by MHRA and they are subjected to on the spot inspections which will include a check as proof that the relevant online pharmacy guidelines are being followed and that the medications are genuine. Online Pharmacies which are not registered legally are not subjected to on the spot inspections so can therefore easily sell fake medications without getting caught or found out. Pharmaceutical companies deal with generic and branded medications and medical devices depending on the manufacturer. There is also fake medications which some unregistered online pharmacies may sell even if they may market genuine branded ones as they are unregulated.
Why use an Online Pharmacy and are they good?
• Fast treatment- Recently in the UK the waiting times for patients in doctor surgeries has increased dramatically, and more people are struggling or do not have enough time to get an appointment with their GP. This had made online pharmacies a valuable alternative due to the fact that its saves doctors valuable time and resources especially for the NHS in prescribing private prescriptions. This makes it easier for customers (over the age of 18) to use online pharmacies as it is delivering healthcare to their doorstep and providing an efficient service saving them the hassle of visiting a GP every time to issue a prescription.
• Easy to use website- The website should be clear and professional and easy for the customer to use. The website must be fast loading and with relevant content in relation to the private prescription service offered. This keeps customers engaged with the company and increases the popularity of UK online pharmacies being accessible appealing to users.
• Convenience- This is one of the most important factors to why online pharmacies in the UK have become increasingly popular. This is what really attracts people to online pharmacies due to the fact that they are able to order a private prescription online for their chosen condition/treatment and can consult health professionals from the comfort of their own home. Online Pharmacies are saving people the time and effort on travelling to a GP, whilst still getting the information they need for the condition/treatment. This is proven highly effective especially due to the fact that some people may be too busy (unsociable working hours) or find it difficult to travel to their GP.
• Simple ordering and delivery process- It is more convenient as all the information provided is online so the patient clearly understands what they want to meet their needs and have the opportunity to choose when to have it delivered by. Getting vital private prescription medications sent right to your home address and the confidentiality is another benefit to the consumer. Once the items have been dispatched the delivery is most of the times very fast, getting through the order process is quick and hassle free. Payment options are flexible through most online pharmacies; information about the treatment is clear and the different quantities of the treatment depending on the condition. The patient also has the opportunity to read the suggested medications based on their consultation results before fully deciding which treatment meets their needs.
• Fully qualified staff- UK Online Pharmacies that are fully regulated and registered is a valuable addition to the healthcare system. This is shown clearly on the website so that customers know that the online pharmacy is operating legally in providing a safe and secures confidential service to patients. Pharmacists are qualified to diagnose a condition, prescribe necessary medication and dispense the medication to you. The customer service team are also there to help with any queries that customers have with regards to their consultation/treatment or order process. The contact details displayed with online pharmacies must be clear and there should be a telephone number, email, location and registration (as proof the online pharmacy is regulated legally in the UK) where customers know who to turn to if they need to ask any queries with regards to the service provided.
• Discretion and confidentiality- Sometimes going to the doctor can be difficult due to the condition being embarrassing for the patient to discuss with their GP. Such as Erectile Dysfunction. Online Pharmacies allow patients to express their more personal concerns such as Erectile Dysfunction, The Contraceptive Pill, Hair Loss, and Unwanted Facial Hair with discretion and privacy, making people more likely and feel more comfortable to address these concerns by writing them down digitally with safe and secure UK online pharmacies.
How to verify if a UK online pharmacy is safe and legal?
All online pharmacies in the UK must be registered with the MHRA. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK. They are an executive agency of the Department of Health. Their responsibilities include the following
• Ensuring that medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion meet applicable standards of safety, quality and efficacy.
• Ensuring that the supply chain for medicines, medical devices and blood components is safe and secure.
• Promoting the effectiveness and safety of biological medicines.
• Helping to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the risks and benefits of medicines, medical devices and blood components, leading to safer and more effective use.
• Supporting innovation and research and development beneficial to public health.
• Influencing the UK, EU and international regulatory frameworks so that they’re risk proportionate and effective at protecting public health.
Falsified medicines and online pharmacies that are not operating legally are a major threat to public health and safety. Anyone that is selling medicines to the public via a website must be registered with the MHRA and display an EU common logo on every page of the website offering medicines for sale. This is to help members of the public to identify websites that can legally sell medicines so they are aware that UK Online Pharmacies are operating legally.