CQC reports on four more internet pharmacies

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published reports on four more online pharmacy services putting patients “at risk of harm” through insufficient identity checks and an inappropriate prescription of medicines.

As a result the CQC has suspended the registration of Doctor Matt Ltd (www.theonlinesurgery), imposed strict conditions on Frosts Pharmacy Ltd (www.oxfordonlinepharmacy.co.uk) and White Pharmacy Ltd (www.whitepharmacy.co.uk), and ordered i-GP Ltd (www.i-gp.uk) to make a number of improvements in its service.

Doctor Matt Ltd was reported to have issued prescriptions in “as little as 17 seconds”, whilst Frosts Pharmacy Ltd was discovered to be prescribing asthma inhalers without appropriate review, “putting patients at risk of life-threatening exacerbation”, the report stated. White Pharmacy Ltd was prescribing certain opioid-based medicines without a system to check the patients’ medical history, whilst i-GP Ltd was found not to be taking enough precautions in verifying patient identity.

Responding to the report, Angus Wrixon, a spokesman for Doctor Matt, said to the BBC: “Interactions may last only a few seconds, for example, when a known customer is requesting a repeat prescription – as is the case in many normal GP consultations.”

Stuart Gale, owner at Oxford Online Pharmacy, which is run by Frosts Pharmacy Ltd, said: “We have responded immediately, even suspending our asthma inhaler service for the time being so that we can ensure we are operating to the highest standards.”

However, there has been not been any comment yet from the White Pharmacy Ltd or i-GP Ltd.

All UK providers of digital primary care have to be registered with the CQC, which is currently investigating 46 online services registered in England and will continue to publish reports on their findings. These current findings follow earlier inspection reports, published by the CQC on 3 March, on HR Healthcare Ltd and MD Direct. As a result HR Healthcare Ltd had its registration suspended by the CQC, whilst MD Direct voluntarily cancelled theirs, which can be read about here.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the Care Quality Commission, said: “It is understandable that people want convenient access to advice and medicines, but it is important that providers do not compromise on patient safety. We expect the same standards of quality and safety to be met as we would see in more traditional GP settings – this is exactly what people deserve.”

The CQC has published advice for patients seeking to use internet prescription services, which can be accessed here. In particular it advises that patients check a website is registered with the CQC, how much they charge for prescriptions, whether they require a medical history, and that they provide clear information on the prescription. 


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