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Internet pharmacy

Pharmacy2U and Chemist Direct merge in £40m deal

Two online pharmacy companies have merged in a £40m deal to become the sector’s leading digital pharmacy business in the UK, reaching 1.5 million customers.

Pharmacy2U and Chemist Direct announced the move on 4 July 2016 following a £10m investment from the Business Growth Fund.

The merger comes just two months after Pharmacy2U unveiled its £3.5m centralised dispensing facility in Leeds — the first of its kind in the UK — which it says has the capacity to deal with 1 million prescription items a month.

The combined business offering includes a home delivery prescription service for NHS patients, online doctor consultation services, and more than 6,000 health and wellbeing retail products.

Chief executive of the new business will be Chemist Direct’s chief executive Mark Livingstone. Daniel Lee, the founder and superintendent pharmacist of Pharmacy2U, has been appointed chief operating officer.

Livingstone describes the merger as a “landmark moment for internet pharmacy in the UK”.

“We are creating the leading ‘pure play’ business in the sector,” he says. “It is the beginning of a new era of convenience and choice for millions more patients, as we open up the full potential of internet pharmacy for the first time.”

Pharmacy2U has faced some recent challenges: technical problems at the company over Christmas and New Year in 2015/2016 led to delays in the distribution of ordered medicines, while its commercial director Julian Harrison was suspended from the General Pharmaceutical Council’s register for three months in May 2016 for selling patient data to third parties. Separately, the committee found that Lee’s fitness to practise was not impaired and issued him with a warning.

Pharmacy2U was also fined £130,000 in October 2015 for selling information about customers to marketing companies. The fine was the first civil monetary penalty imposed by the Information Commissioners Office.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201387

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