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Online Pharmacy: A Quick Guide

An online pharmacy is not simply a retailer that sells pharmacy products. All UK pharmacies, including online pharmacies, are bound by a set of codes defined and enforced by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Each pharmacy is regularly inspected to ensure that it complies with these rules. The logo on the left signifies that we at Express Chemist are compliant with these rules, and also contains our registered pharmacy number that can be verified here.

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Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 9am - 5.30pm.

What rules does an online pharmacy have to follow?

All online pharmacies have to follow a particular set of rules. The most important of these rules are described below.

The pharmacist
All pharmacists in the UK have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council, and have a registration number. The supply of pharmacy medicines must be performed under the supervision of a pharmacist at all times. In addition, each pharmacy must have a "superintendent pharmacist" who oversees all the other pharmacists. The superintendent pharmacist here at Express Chemist is Mr John McConville, and his registration number is 2029833.

The premises
Each pharmacy premises must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council. Our details can be found here.

Patient records must be kept confidential. In addition, their medicines must go to them, and not fall into the wrong hands. For this reason, online pharmacies must use a service such as recorded delivery to ensure that the medicine is handed to the patient, and cannot be eaten by a child, the family pet or mistakenly given to somebody else.

Supplying appropriate medicines
It is very important that all pharmacies, including online pharmacies, supply the correct medicine for your condition. The purpose of the rules is to safeguard your health. We must take steps to ensure that we supply an appropriate medicine for your condition, and one that we believe will not harm you. In addition, we must supply you with safe quantities of medicine

About medicines
Most medicines fall into one of four categories:

P medicines
Pharmacy medicines, or P medicines, have been officially tested as effective and safe for the public to use. However, you cannot just purchase them willy nilly. If you wish to buy a P medicine from a high-street pharmacy, by law they have to be sold with supervision of a pharmacist, and you will be asked questions about how you wish to use the medicine, what your age is, and what other medicines you are taking. If you buy a P medicine from an online pharmacy such as Express Chemist, you will be presented with a short on-screen form and will have to fill in the form before the item can be added to your basket. Before we post the medicine to you, a pharmacist will read the form to ensure that your health is not at risk from taking these medicines, and to ensure that the medicine will be effective and safe for the condition that is being treated. If the pharmacist decides that the treatment will be inappropriate, then we will contact you via email to help you decide on the best course of action.
The information that you supply is treated in the strictest confidence, and will not be used for any other purpose other than to help the pharmacist to check that the medicine will be safe and effective for you. It's the law.

There are shipping restrictions of P products to EU destinations. We can only ship products that have a marketing authorisation in the destination country.

GSL medicines
Like P medicines, General Sale List (GSL) medicines have been officially tested as effective and safe. However, they are subject to fewer restrictions than P medicines. You can generally purchase these at Express Chemist without having to fill in the on-screen form, unless you are buying a potentially unsafe amount.

There are shipping restrictions of GSL products to EU destinations. We can only ship products that have a marketing authorisation in the destination country.

Perscription-Only-Medicines (POMs)
Some medicines are only available if you have a prescription from your doctor. Please use Express Chemist's prescription service if you wish to obtain prescription-only medicines.

Other medicines
Many medicines, such as herbal medicines, are not licensed at all. This means that there are fewer restrictions on their sale, but equally, fewer claims can be made as to their effectiveness.

The Sale of medicines containing Codeine
New warnings and tighter controls on the sales of Pharmacy only medicines containing codeine or dihydrocodeine were introduced by the medicines regulator, MHRA, in 2009, to minimise overuse and reduce the risk of addiction. Over-the-counter (OTC) pack sizes of analgesics containing codeine and dihydrocodeine were reduced to a maximum of 32 tablets or capsules, with professional restrictions of one pack to be sold at any one time.

These restrictions were in line with the wishes of patient groups. We understand that people may feel inconvenienced because they can only buy one pack of codeine-based painkillers at a time. For most people using codeine based pain killers for short term pain relief does not cause any problems, sadly some people have become addicted to these medicines through overuse.
All packs of codeine containing pain killers sold through pharmacy now carry the warning: Can cause addiction. Use for 3 days only. Customers who require long term use of codeine based pain killers are recommended to contact their prescriber for further assistance and advice.

In addition to the restrictions stated, new guidance issued last year by the pharmacy regulator seeks to ensure that on line supplies of medicines are made in a safe and effective manner. In order to minimise the risk of supplying inappropriate medicines on line, the regulator requires us to take steps to check that the person receiving pharmacy services is who they claim to be, by carrying out appropriate identity checks. In view of this we have reviewed our processes and now require evidence of Government issued photo ID e.g. Passport or driving licence, before making sales of OTC medicines containing codeine or dihydrocodeine.

About Express Chemist

Express Chemist is a UK-registered online pharmacy. Our registration number is 1123025, which can be verified here.We specialise in medicines that treat common conditions, and only list products that we believe are high-quality and effective. This means that we have a carefully-selected range of products, rather than selling absolutely everything. It also means that we are knowledgeable about our products. We package everything discreetly and offer a fast and efficient service.

More about Online Pharmacy

If you would like to learn more about online pharmacy, visit the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) website. Their website also contains further information about the green pharmacy logo.

MHRA, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SZ
Telephone: 020 3080 6000
Fax: 020 3118 9803

Further reading

General Pharmaceutical Council - Explanation of the Pharmacy Logo
Verification of Express Chemist's Online Pharmacy Logo

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