A “rapid expansion” of instore pharmacies is expected in the next five years following government moves to liberalise the pharmacy licensing regime.

New proposals from the DTI would make it easier for pharmacists to set up shop in retail developments over 15,000 sq m and for stores with opening hours of more than 100 hours a week to gain licences.

This would make a raft of supermarkets, many of which already open 24 hours, or are located within a large shopping complex, eligible for licences, said a DTI spokesman.

However, applicants would have to provide the specific services demanded by local primary care trusts in order to obtain licences, which meant supermarkets would not be able to roll out a ‘one-size-fits-all’ pharmacy offer, he added.

For more information see The Grocer - out Saturday.