As part of a new initiative commencing today, Safety in Beauty have launched a #FaceTheFacts Campaign challenging beauty and aesthetic industry brands, suppliers and manufacturers to open the doors to their business, and allow the campaign to investigate and explore how their daily operations and brand ethos stands up to the benchmark of transparency, truth and safety. Zain Bhojani, Operations. Co-Director of Church Pharmacy opened the doors to his London and Loughborough based offices and invited Safety in Beauty in, to talk about the medical aesthetic pharmacy and clinic supplies business, that he manages with his team.
Tell Us About The Background of Your Business:
Church Pharmacy is a family business and was founded in 2005 by a Brother and Sister team who are a Pharmacist and Doctor specializing in Medical Aesthetics. Its aim was to provide the best possible service and choice as a medical aesthetic pharmacy and clinic supplies distributor.
Any significant Milestones your business has achieved?
Over the years we have earned commendations and high commendations in distributor and wholesaler of the year categories.
Our proudest achievement was winning ‘Best Customer Service’ at The Aesthetic Awards in 2016, as this was across various distributors, manufacturers and other service providers.
What makes your business unique?
We are essentially an online pharmacy in the unique field that is Medical Aesthetics. We have been at the forefront when pushing the quality of service whether that be through our innovative and robust digital prescribing service, ‘DigitRx’ or the personal and friendly nature of our team, who offer a more human approach to our customers who over the years and have become great friends too. This is possible through the automation of administrative processes in the background.
Clarify the controversy surrounding Cosmedic chemists dispensing to non-prescribers, where does Church Pharmacy stand on this?
Prescriptions can only be created by healthcare professionals that are qualified to prescribe. Prescribers will on occasion request for products to be sent to various locations as they may be practicing from multiple sites. They may also have their orders sent to us by clinic managers and other administrative associates who they work with. People other than the prescriber or health care professional must be signed off by that health care professional in order to take part in the appropriate part of the order processing.
In short, and to be clear, medical aesthetic injectable products cannot be processed without the sign off from an appropriate Health Care Practitioner with training and insurance. Therefore, a non-health care practitioner such as a clinic manager, a beauty therapist working within the clinic or a receptionist, can be authorized to order on the HCP’s behalf with the express written permission of the HCP only. Prescription only medicines will always need a signature from the prescriber.
We have the most robust sign up and ordering process in the industry, for that we are sure, sometimes to the detriment of the high quality of service and customer satisfaction we provide, we do turn business away if we feel it is putting the public at risk, or we feel something is amiss.
Putting the safety of the patient first is most important to us as well as our customers too.
With all the above safeguards in place, to protect the practitioner as well as the patient, it is impossible to physically control the products after they have been delivered to where the customer wants them to be sent. We trust that health care professionals carry out their practice with the integrity and ethics their role demands.
Does Church Pharmacy directly supply injectable dermal fillers to Beauty Therapists?
If a beauty therapist, clinic manager or other clinic staff happen to receive an injectable product from us, this would only have been possible with sign off from a health care professional at some point requesting us to send to a particular address for them.
What does Church Pharmacy currently think about the aesthetic industry as it stands?
We love our field for the happiness and confidence that it creates for innumerable people, and we’ve seen Medical Aesthetics continue to grow at a fast pace. We have also seen a number of complications in the press as many others have in recent years. The more procedures that happen, the more likely it is that complications will occur. We support any initiative that urges the public to choose their practitioner wisely and ensure that the practitioner is capable of handling complications in a safe, legal manner and within their area of expertise.
We would also urge practitoners, for the sake of their patients, to choose wisely where they obtain products from. You get what you pay for, and as competitive as we are, we urge customers to order from MHRA and GPHC regulated pharmacies who have official relationships with manufacturers where clinics can receive the necessary support, training and can be assured that good distribution practice and other important factors such as temperature regulation are being strictly adhered to. The issue surrounding counterfeit product is very real too. Some companies have gone above and beyond to counteract this. For example, Teoxane have unique 2D barcodes and Galderma recently introduced unique hologram stickers for all their dermal fillers to safeguard their products.
My Verdict on Church Pharmacy by Safety in Beauty Founder Antonia Mariconda
I was keen to probe Church Pharmacy as the first business in our #FaceTheFacts Campaign as I have, on several occasions heard their name pop up on professional community social media forums where they have been questioned and rumoured to have supplied, aesthetic injectable products and prescription only products directly to non healthcare practitioners without any protocol or paperwork in place.
I have watched Church Pharmacy grow their brand in the industry over a number of years, indeed their presence is popular and many aesthetic practitioners do use their easy to access on-line service and telephone service.
As part of the #FaceTheFacts Campaign, we used 3 mystery shoppers from our campaign, over a period of 6 months, to try and access a direct purchase for a dermal filler injectable product, and two prescription only aesthetic medical products, our mystery shoppers were questioned extensively and turned down on all three occasions, the rejection was also met with the request for further identification and further evidence of identification from the prescribing officer to be presented to the Pharmacy.
The burden of responsibility as far as ethics, transparency and diligence are concerned here tilts heavily towards the health care practitioner/prescriber. To apportion blame otherwise is simply passing the buck over the immorality of a corrupt health care practitioner/prescriber.
If a protocol with strict guidelines has been adhered to and rigorously updated and implemented, then there is only so much a business can do to fight the battle of unscrupulous and blatant disregard for public safety and ethical good practice by a rogue minority.