Pharmacy2U criticised for confusing marketing tactics

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Pharmacists responding to a National Pharmacy Association (NPA) survey have claimed that Pharmacy2U, Britain’s largest online pharmacy, has been sending out unsolicited marketing material, causing confusion among patients who think it is official NHS correspondence.

The NPA conducted its survey between May and August 2017, and received a total of 283 responses from pharmacists in England. In the survey, nine out of ten respondents said that at least one of their patients had been confused by Pharmacy2U marketing materials. About 7% of respondents estimated that 50 or more of their patients had been confused thinking that it was official NHS mail.

One pharmacist said their patients thought the Pharmacy2U marketing literature had come from a GP surgery, and another respondent said that because of the wording in the Pharmacy2U mailing their older patients had felt obliged to fill in the form to maintain their usual service from their pharmacy and GP.

One respondent said that, as a consequence of this misunderstanding patients were ‘outraged’ when they realised what had happened.

A spokesperson from Pharmacy2U responded to the survey results saying that, like most companies, they only sent information to people who they believed would benefit from their service.

“We take our responsibility as a health care service extremely seriously and ensure the information we share is approved by NHS England and follows the official guidelines set by the General Pharmaceutical Council; the best practice guidelines of the Direct Marketing Association; and carries the Plain English Campaign Crystal Mark for clarity of communication,” a spokesperson said.

They added that Pharmacy2U has been rated as good or excellent on online rating service Trustpilot by 97% of users.

“Pharmacy2U is the largest online pharmacy in the country and has been managing NHS repeat prescriptions from request to delivery since the introduction of the Electronic Prescription Service,” they said.

“People choose to use Pharmacy2U because our technology offers them greater convenience and an excellent customer experience, which people have come to expect from leading online services.”

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, September 2017;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203482