The supermarket opened its first extended-hours pharmacy this week after a relaxation of government licensing rules in April. Asda’s superintendent pharmacist, John Evans, said it would be considering all available options to expand its pharmacy business further, which could also mean the launch of an online pharmacy through Asda.com.
The new extended-hours licence granted to the Manchester Eastlands store means the pharmacy can now dispense prescription medicines. The new regulations mean that a store will be granted a licence if it opens a pharmacy for a minimum of 100 hours a week or is situated in a shopping centre bigger than 15,000 sq metres. To get its new contract, the Manchester store was also required to open a needle exchange service.
“This is a huge step for us,” said Evans. “Opening for 100 hours is fairly expensive, but our customers say that outside core foods, a pharmacy is the most important service we can provide. We see this as the first step towards total deregulation and hope that the government will stick to its word and review the legislation next year.”
Asda hopes to open another 40 pharmacies by the end of the year. “This will be the start of better priced medicines for people in the UK. The more we open, the more competition there will be. This has to be good for customers,” said Evans.