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Patient records

Pharmacy2U’s commercial director suspended from the register over data sales

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has suspended Julian Harrison, commercial director of the online pharmacy Pharmacy2U, from the register for three months for selling patient data to third parties. 

A fitness-to-practise committee hearing on 23–24 May 2016 heard that the company sold data to third parties three times between October 2014 and December 2014, and that each time the sale was approved by Harrison. The committee decided that his fitness-to-practise was currently impaired. 

However, the committee found that the fitness to practise of Daniel Lee, superintendent pharmacist and chief operating officer at Pharmacy2U, was not impaired and issued him with a warning. 

The committee heard that Lee had failed to ensure that Pharmacy2U had robust procedures to ensure patients provided informed consent on the use of their data, but accepted that he had been unaware of the sales of data until the details were published in the press.

Pharmacy2U was 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 (ICO). 

The names and addresses of customers were advertised via a marketing company at £130 per 1,000 customers and more than 20,000 customers’ details were sold. The database was advertised as including people with a range of conditions such as asthma, Parkinson’s disease and erectile dysfunction, and a breakdown of the data was available. 

Companies that bought the data included a health supplements company that has been cautioned for misleading advertising, and an Australian lottery company that used the data to deliberately target elderly and vulnerable people.


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201215

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