Starting an Online Pharmacy in the UK: What You Need To Know

Now is a great time to start if you’re considering becoming an online pharmacy business owner. The UK pharmacy sector is thriving, with many pharmacies reporting revenue increases year on year. This is mainly due to the growing demand for convenient and accessible healthcare services among UK residents. As a result, new pharmacy businesses are emerging every day – many of which choose to sell their products online and operate a physical store. If you have experience in the pharmaceutical industry, starting an online pharmacy business could be an excellent opportunity. Let’s look at why now is the perfect time to start an online pharmacy in the UK and how you can do so…

Register for GPhC Approval

First and foremost, you must register your business with the General Pharmacy Council (GPhC). This is the organisation responsible for regulating the UK pharmacy sector and setting the standards of practice. If you don’t register and become GPhC-approved, you won’t be able to operate a pharmacy in the UK, and your business will be illegal. The GPhC approval process is rigorous but straightforward and is usually completed within 5-6 months. You will need to submit an application form and supporting documents, such as a business plan, a financial forecast and proof of funds. You will also need to undergo a criminal record check, including obtaining a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check for yourself and any business partners.

Get An NHS Dispensing Contract

An NHS dispensing contract is a legal document that commits you to providing NHS-approved pharmaceutical products and services to NHS patients within a specified geographical area and at a specific location. If you want to start an online pharmacy in the UK, you must obtain an NHS dispensing contract from your local health authority. This is necessary to comply with all NHS laws and regulations, ensuring your business is above reproach and that your customers are not being misled. You cannot sell to NHS patients if you do not have an NHS dispensing contract.

Arrange Appropriate Insurance

You must also arrange appropriate insurance to protect your business against potential claims. You can purchase many types of business insurance, but you must ensure that the policy you choose covers the products and services you’re planning to sell. The products and services you’re selling must be covered under the terms of the insurance policy you purchase. If you are selling prescription medicines, you will generally need pharmacy insurance that covers the cost of any potential claims from customers who may experience an adverse drug reaction.

Order Suitable Equipment, Cabinets and Fridges

Once you’ve gone through the GPhC approval process and obtained your NHS dispensing contract, you can start ordering the equipment, cabinets and fridges you’ll need to operate your online pharmacy. For example, you’ll need to order suitable packaging for your products and compounding equipment, such as pill presses and scales, to measure ingredients accurately. You should also order a temperature-controlled storage cabinet to keep your medicines fresh and intact. It’s also a good idea to order a refrigerated cabinet to store your vaccines and other sensitive pharmaceutical products.

You will also need to set your website up, find a delivery partner, and find out how to get a pharmacy merchant account to accept payments from non-subsidised patients.

Final Words

If you’re considering starting an online pharmacy, now is a great time. The online pharmacy industry thrives, and new businesses are emerging daily. If you’re qualified and have the knowledge, now is a perfect time to start your own online pharmacy and share your expertise with the UK. Before you get started, you must register for GPhC approval, obtain an NHS dispensing contract and arrange appropriate insurance. You will also need to order suitable equipment and fridges to start your online pharmacy.


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