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Pharmacy2U

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Pharmacy2U is an online mail-order pharmacy located in the UK. The company was founded by pharmacist Daniel Lee in 1999. Pharmacy2U has been involved in piloting the electronic transfer of prescriptions in the UK.

History

Foundation
Founder Daniel Lee worked for his family's pharmacy business until 1999, when he decided to form his own company. His father owned a chain of chemists shops in Leeds. He thought of the idea to found an Internet mail-order pharmacy in 1997 after a report by the NHS about its initiative to deliver prescriptions to patients more efficiently. Although at the time it was not legal to sell prescriptions by mail in the UK, Lee sold his apartment for £100,000 in order to put the money into the creation of Pharmacy2u.co.uk, basing his shipping out of his father's pharmacy business. The site went live in November 1999, and used a courier service. Julian Harrison from Andersen Consulting became a director in January 2000.

Pharmacy2U became the UK's first online pharmacy. The British Medical Association expressed concern over the innovation, and the National Pharmaceutical Association resisted the move towards filling prescriptions online in 1999. UK health organizations persistently pushed back against online ordering in 1999 due to concerns over change in the medical industry's infrastructure. A few days after they first opened an inspection team arrived in order to scrutinize their business practices and structure. The result of the inspection was a positive recommendation to stay open, which lead to an amendment of the 1968 Medicines Act as well as the codes of ethics of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in order to allow for the establishment of Internet-based pharmacies.

2000s

In June 2000 the company relaunched its website as the UK government allowed the transfer of prescriptions electronically. In August 2000 Pharmacy2U was one of the founding members of the European Association of Mail Service Pharmacies. In October 2000 the firm OnMedica invested £2 million into Pharmacy2U. By 2001 the website had about half a million pounds in sales.

In November 2000 the company launched the first ever advertising campaign for an online pharmacy. In 2001 the company was used as a benchmark for price comparison for pharmaceuticals in the UK by the BBC. In 2001 the company was awarded a pilot program from the NHS for the electronic transfer of prescriptions. In 2001 Pharmacy2U also produced the UK's first mail order pharmacy catalogue. The company also provided non-prescription health and beauty products for sale.

In 2001 Pharmacy2U backed an electronic transfer of prescription pilot where patients could request prescriptions electronically and receive a postal delivery instead of having to do an in-person pick-up. It was one of three companies chosen by the NHS to run the pilot program and trial, which covered prescriptions in Stockport and the South of England. It focused on the requesting and electronic prescribing of repeat prescriptions and their home delivery. Seventy general practice surgeries were involved, as well as partners EMIS Health, Hadley Healthcare, and the NorthWest Co-op in UK.

In 2003 The Guardian stated that Pharmacy2U had organized the biggest change in the UK market in moving towards electronic prescriptions by "allowing patients' prescriptions to be delivered anywhere in the UK for no extra charge. Delivery required the signature of the patient or their named representative". By that year it had incorporated 142 surgeries into its program. In 2004 an evaluation of the technical models used in the English ETP pilots was undertaken by Bob Sugden and Rob Wilson, in which they stated that the pilots had been technically viable. Studies commissioned by Pharmacy2U revealed that one third of UK patients' prescriptions were not filled.

In 2007, the company was presented with the Yorkshire Post's Small Business of the Year Award.

In 2008 the company had £12 million in sales. At this point it served 250 general practice surgeries and provided white label pharmacy ecommerce systems for supermarkets. In 2012 Andy Hornby became chairman of the board for the company.  That year the company also launched an automated phone prescription service allowing patients to request repeat prescriptions by telephone.

2010s
In October 2015 the company was fined £130,000 for selling patients' personal data to international scammers. The Information Commissioner's Office found that the company had sold patients' names and addresses without permission. They were not accused of passing on medical information. The buyers, including a health supplements company, were warned for misleading advertising and unverified health claims. An Australian lottery company was said to have deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable individuals.

In December 2015 the company stopped providing medication for several weeks due to a failure of their automated dispensing system.

In January 2016, a study on adherence research, co-funded by the firm, concluded that "telephone intervention, led by a pharmacist and tailored to the individuals’ needs, can significantly improve medication adherence in patients with long-term conditions, using a mail-order pharmacy. Further work is needed to confirm a trend towards improved clinical outcome."

According to the statistics for March 2016 from the NHS Business Services Authority, Pharmacy2U was the largest NHS contracted Pharmacy.

In July 2016, Pharmacy2U announced a merger with Chemist Direct.

in 2018 the company was dispensing 300,000 items a month.

The company was in a legal dispute in late 2018 over the rights of the contact details of members of the National Pharmacy Association. The presiding judge expressed concerns over the company's ability to "pick off" individual members

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