Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Pharmacy Business in the United Kingdom

Starting a Pharmacy Business in the United KingdomTo succeed in this sector, you must have the drive and determination in today’s competitive marketplace. Starting a pharmacy business in the United Kingdom is not only a rewarding venture but challenging too. Again, the business venture is good job security as it is somewhat recession resilient. As long as people get sick and require medication, the demand for pharmacists will remain important.

Here’s a guide on starting a pharmacy business in the United Kingdom.


Industry Practice

One of the most vital sectors in the UK is the pharmaceutical industry. The NHS accounts for over 98% of the UK prescription medicines market ranking 6th largest pharmaceutical market in the world. When starting a pharmacy business in the United Kingdom, you will be helping others without dealing with blood and other body fluids. You need to understand the work environment beforehand.

Most pharmacies open around the clock, meaning having irregular schedules and night shifts for some staff. Within this business, you must be willing and able to interact with coworkers and customers professionally. Your communication skills must be excellent and always paying attention to details. This is because you’re providing vital medications for individuals. Your actions could mean life or death for patients. Ensuring you give the correct drug in the right dosage and right calculations require adequate training.


Business Registration Process

Running a pharmacy in the UK will come with its own challenges, but it will come with great rewards in terms of finances, lifestyle, and freedom.

Let’s look at what it takes to start a pharmacy business in the UK.

Research Your Target Market

The first thing you have to remember is that a pharmacy is a serious business, and there are loads of regulations, rules, and legislation to follow. Therefore, you have to do a thorough market analysis to determine several factors, including demand, supply, and your potential customers. A good place to start with is finding out the essential information on rules and regulations. Again, you can get in touch with current or previous pharmacy owners to grasp their viewpoint and perhaps some tips.


Before starting your pharmacy business, you must first have the right staff. Your business must have a fully qualified and licensed responsible pharmacist. However, if you’re a pharmacist, you’ll take up the role; otherwise, you must conduct a recruitment process. Likewise, you’ll need a pharmacy technician, fully qualified and registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Licensing and Regulation

As a business, you must apply for a new NHS dispensing contract. Check out the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) website to find out which information is relevant to your business. You can go further to consult a corporate service provider in the UK such as 3E Accounting.

Promote Your Business

You must advertise your business if you want your target customer to know you. The pharmacy may act as a good advertisement for you; therefore, it’s essential to make it appealing, clean, and welcoming. Some of the requirements you should meet under the General Pharmaceutical Council include:

  • Publish your business in your local newspaper and any local publications and directories.
  • Create your own website and provide a mail order service. Get ahead and include the GPhC internet pharmacy logo on your website for reassurance to your patients.
  • Add social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for people to know about your healthcare news.
  • Create flyers outlining your services and distribute them to your residents. Feel free to include health ‘tips’ of relevance to your target market.
  • Provide a collection and delivery service to your local surgery.
  • When using a vehicle, ensure that it has your name and logo.

Register Your Pharmacy Business

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is the national representative body for NHS community pharmacies in the UK. They offer advice to individuals on opening new pharmacies. If you’re existing contractors on a pharmaceutical list planning to open additional premises, here is what you should do. The process has two parts; the first is applying to the local NHS inclusion in the pharmaceutical list. The process can take four months or more, and secondly, the pharmacy premises must be registered with the GPhC, which takes three months. For a guide to company registration in the UK, you can check on the government website.

Insurance Policy

When starting a pharmacy business in the United Kingdom, you must ensure you have an insurance policy. The pharmacy insurance will cover you from the following eventualities.

  • Protection on pharmacy assets: the policy covers contents for your outlets, warehouse, fixtures, fittings, and stock.
  • Protection against employee dishonesty: in situations where your staff proves to be dishonest while at work, this policy provides peace of mind. The losses could also be associated with theft or fraud committed by your employees.
  • Liability cover: it covers employers’ liability for your pharmacy’s legal costs and expenses if a claim is laid against your services or premises.

Establish what to Venture In

In the UK, the pharmacy business is in two aspects:

  • NHS dispensing and services.
  • Private healthcare service and retailing of several health and beauty products.
  • Each aspect is under strict rules and regulations, which you must adhere to before starting your business.

Develop a Detailed Business Plan

Once due diligence is complete, the next thing is coming up with a solid business plan. You will need to consider the competitor aspects, operations, financial, and marketing strategies. The plan should be clear on how you plan to execute your goals and objectives.


Licenses, Permits, and Regulations

For you to start a pharmacy business in the United Kingdom, it’s advisable to acquire some specialist assistance to ensure you comply with all the legal requirements of company incorporation.

Let’s look at some of the areas that are relevant for you as an entrepreneur.

Does My Pharmacy Business Need a License?

In the UK, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the regulator and is responsible for registering retail pharmacies and pharmacists. As you plan on starting a pharmacy business in the United Kingdom, you must obtain a contract with the local NHS England Regional Team or Health Board. This will aid you in dispensing NHS prescriptions in the region you’re operating from. Your business will require a wholesale dealer’s license if you plan to supply medicines on a commercial basis. You can apply for the permit on the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) website. Again, if your premise will handle denatured alcohol, you need an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Subsequently, if you plan to play some background music on your premise, you must have a Music License from PPL PRS Ltd.

Data Protection

The law requires that you register as a data user with the Information Commissioner’s Office if you’ll be keeping computerized records of clients’ details.

NHS Dispensing

As a retail pharmacist, you must do the following to dispense NHS work:

  • Register with the General Pharmaceutical Council or Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.
  • Acquire a contract with the relevant authority to dispense NHS prescriptions.
  • The premise has to be owned and run by a qualified pharmacist. In a scenario where the business is a limited company –a superintendent pharmacist must be appointed.
  • Get a responsible pharmacist in control of the retail sale or supply of medicine at each pharmacy outlet.

If you need more details about the legislation regulating pharmacies, you can get it from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), which publishes Medicines, Ethics, and Practice. The publications are available in case you want to download and go through them.

Professional Regulation

Now, suppose you plan on selling medicines online. In that case, you must register with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and display the EU Common logo on each page of their website.

Hazardous Waste

Clinical waste, a term used to refer to waste drugs and other pharmaceutical waste, is hazardous. Therefore, while disposing of them, only the authorized waste carrier should do the work. In a situation where patients return unwanted medicines to you, you will need to ensure that any hazardous wastes are disposed of appropriately. A hazardous waste consignment note should always accompany them.


When it comes to retailing, there is a range of regulations applied to protect the interests of the customer. For instance, you must describe goods and services correctly, and the prices should be displayed. The law is strict on substances that could make explosives getting into the wrong hands. They can only be sold by registered pharmacists and supplied to a public member who possesses a license.

If you require any form of assistance in starting a pharmacy in the United Kingdom, you can contact us.

Starting a Pharmacy Business in the United Kingdom