Pharmacy2U, the UK’s leading mail order and online pharmacy site, have launched a pilot electronic prescribing electronic service to enable patients to self-manage their NHS prescriptions online.

Patients who have signed up for the NHS electronic transmission of prescription pilot in the South East — one of three national pilots being funded by the DoH — can now access their electronic medication record and order repeat prescriptions on a secure website for the first time in the UK.

Hundreds of patients are said to have already signed up for the new service in the first wave of roll out. Having logged on to the site using a username and password, patients are able to request repeat NHS prescriptions, call-up their prescription history, and schedule electronic reminders to take their medicine.

Pharmacy2U was awarded an NHS pilot in March 2001 to develop the electronic transmission of prescriptions in the UK. Electronic prescriptions are currently being transmitted directly from 27 GPs at 9 surgeries to Pharmacy2U.

Acting as a mail order pharmacy the firm then picks and dispatches the prescription medicine the same day as the electronic prescription is received from the GP, and delivers to the patient the following day. When prescriptions or medicines are ordered online, the orders are checked by a qualified Pharmacy2U pharmacist before being delivered to the customer’s door.

Mark Terrett, Technical Project Manager at Pharmacy2U, commented: "This new development further extends patient choice, providing a secure and integrated method of communication with their Doctor and their chosen Pharmacy."

Terrett added: "When combined with our automated reminder systems which advise patients when their next medicines may be required, this technology is delivering real benefits in the healthcare space."

Development of e-prescribing and electronic transfer of prescriptions is a key goal of the national NHS IT strategy, which says these services will be available nationally by 2008.

Earlier this week the Cabinet Office’s Performance Innovation Unit (PIU) estimated that removing the requirement for GPs to manually fill in forms for every repeat prescription would save millions of hours work every year.

Pharmacy2U has pioneered the development of professional Internet pharmacy in the UK and as a result, was the first such pharmacy to receive full assent from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in February 2000.

In addition to the new self-managed electronic prescription service, Pharmacy2U providing national mail order, e-commerce and m-commerce services. It offers online advice and over 5,000 products in nine different categories including medicines, healthcare, personal care, beauty and disability.