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ECHO pulls ‘invite a friend’ email over inducement 'confusion'

LloydsPharmacy parent McKesson UK has stopped an email campaign highlighting a reward scheme for existing patients who refer a friend to online pharmacy Echo’s mailing list. 

Pharmacists posted on social media this week criticising the March 10 email to existing Echo users, which read: “When you invite a friend to Echo and they sign up to our mailing list, we’ll give you both a £10 voucher. You can spend the voucher at a wide range of stores or donate it to a charity close to your heart.

“Know someone who could benefit from free NHS prescription delivery, dose reminders and nudges to reorder? Invite them today and start earning rewards.” 

Some expressed concern that this may amount to an inducement to attract new prescription business, which is forbidden under the terms of service for pharmacy contractors. 

However, when approached for comment McKesson said that the initiative incentivises referrals to the mailing list, and that it is not necessary to sign up the repeat prescription service to claim the voucher.

A spokesperson told Pharmacy Network News: “It has been bought to our attention that an email to our existing patient database has raised some concerns. This email intended to broaden our marketing mailing list. The initiative invites patients to invite a friend to sign up to our mailing list, and both parties receive a voucher to spend at a range of stores or to donate to charity. 

“People are eligible for the incentive if they sign up to the mailing list; they do not need to nominate Echo for their prescriptions. However, to avoid any confusion to our patients and partners, this particular email is no longer running."

PSNC operations director Gordon Hockey told PNN: “PSNC is always on hand to offer advice to community pharmacy contractors on the pharmacy regulations and terms of service. Where concerns around inducements are raised, we prefer to work with our members to resolve issues.” 

The GPhC declined to comment.

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