Pharmacy2U has unveiled a £3.5 million “state of the art prescription fulfilment facility” in Leeds, that will increase its capacity ten times and enable it to dispatch a million prescription items a month.

Pharmacy2U says it was the first online pharmacy in the UK, and that it is now the largest. It has grown by working with the NHS on electronic prescribing, and now operates a widely-used EPS-enabled home delivery repeat medication service.

The 30,000 square foot building that it has just opened will support its NHS service, as well as supporting its over-the-counter, private prescription and online doctor services. It could also provide additional capacity for high street pharmacies.

In a statement, managing director Daniel Lee said the move was “the latest in a long and proud history of innovation” for the company [which has released a video about the new facility, available here].

“Throughout our history, we have shown that there are new ways to provide pharmacy services – using the internet and home delivery to give patients more convenience and choice,” he added.

“This bold new investment will take our business to the next level, and is in line with the NHS’ aim of increasing the availability of new types of pharmacy service.”

The new facility has been supported by a £450,000 local enterprise grant from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership business growth programme and has created 63 jobs.

It has been developed with support from Logistex, a supplier of warehouse management software and logistics, whose managing director, Jerry Woodhouse, said it represented “a technological advance not previously deployed in the UK.”

The storage and picking areas of the new facility take up the size of 2.5 tennis courts, and are served by conveyor belts stretching to almost twice the height of the Shard in London.

Two automated dispensing systems can pick  32 prescription items every eight to 12 seconds. An automated packaging system reduces the size of each package to the size of the products inside, and can produce 900 boxes per hour.

Other innovations include systems to help pharmacists to check incoming prescriptions and to make sure they are auto-labelled, using three way barcoding, to make sure that every medicine is labelled correctly.