The Co-op, which sold off its high street pharmacy business for £620m in 2014, is returning to the market by buying the repeat prescription smartphone app Dimec.
The app was developed by two pharmacists and features on the NHS Digital app library.
The product links with a patient’s GP and community pharmacy in real time; however, unlike a number of other pharmacy apps, it does not offer a medicines delivery service. Patients collect their prescription from the pharmacy of their choice.
The app was bought by Co-op Venture, the company’s innovation unit, with a remit to develop challenger businesses designed to disrupt markets in which the company does not currently operate.
In a statement, the Co-op said the acquisition was a “clear statement of intent to develop new and innovative customer solutions in the health sector”.
The deal, made for an undisclosed sum, will enable the Co-op to “compete effectively” within the £10.5bn pharmacy market, which involves 1.1 billion annual prescriptions in England alone, it added.
As part of the transaction, the co-founders of Dimec — pharmacists Andrew Bailey and Chris Turner — will work with the Co-op Ventures team. New jobs in clinical, digital and operational roles will be created in Manchester and Merseyside.
On its website, Dimec, which was originally set up as an online pharmacy in 2013, describes itself as a “disruptive health tech start up”. It boasts that it is “the only pharmacy app that integrates with GP systems and is fully NHS Digital assured”.
It also explains that it “works at Cloud level” with the patient’s GP and pharmacist, and that it can “enable every high street pharmacy in the app”.