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Co-op to “disrupt” prescriptions market with app

The Co-op said it plans to “disrupt” the health sector and grow the online prescription market as it launched a new app that is available to its 4.6 million members.

The Co-op Health app links members to their GP surgeries “through its integration with the NHS,” allowing them to order repeat prescriptions, the organisation said.

Prescriptions will be processed at the Co-op’s pharmacy distribution centre in Lea Green, and patients will have the option to either have them delivered to their home or work or to have them dispensed by and collected from a brick-and-mortar pharmacy in England they have nominated.

In addition, customers will be able to collect prescriptions from click-and-collect lockers in Co-op stores “in the coming weeks”.

The organisation said an additional function will be introduced to the app later this year that will allow people to book and manage their GP appointments.

The app was described as the “first in a series of digital developments” from the Co-op’s new Health division.

The launch, which took place at the Co-op’s AGM on Saturday May 18, followed the acquisition of digital repeat prescription platform Dimec in September last year.

This move back into the healthcare sector comes almost five years after the company sold its brick-and-mortar pharmacies to the Bestway Group for £620m. Bestway re-launched the 780 pharmacies as Well Pharmacy in 2015.

The Co-op said it plans to help grow the digital pharmacy sector, which currently makes up less than one per cent of England’s £9bn prescription market. Co-op Health managing director Tim Davies said pharmacy is “at the start of a digital revolution, as consumers look for more flexibility and convenience in accessing their medication”.

Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said the launch “takes us back into a sector we know well and one where our difference can be felt.”

Pharmacy Magazine has asked Co-op health for more information on its plans to re-enter the UK prescriptions market.

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