Lloydspharmacy's online arm has been nominated by 500,000 people for their repeat prescriptions since the multiple acquired it in 2019.

The online pharmacy, which was previously called Echo, will now be named LloydsDirect ‘to reflect how the business has evolved since joining the McKesson UK family in 2019,’ the multiple said.

Popularity for the online business has increased during lockdown, the company said, with LloydsDirect seeing 800% growth in revenue in 2020 compared with 2019, as it dispenses over 1.2 million packets of medicines a month.

LloydsDirect also saw the number of colleagues employed by the business increase by 113% over the same time.

The multiple claims that the growth of online pharmacies will help free up community pharmacies’ time to provide more face-to-face clinical services and care.

Toby Anderson, chief executive at McKesson UK, said: ‘LloydsDirect also acts as a support mechanism for our network of community pharmacies.

‘Creating a more sustainable future for the sector involves us working smarter, and that means digitising more of our dispensing.

‘If pharmacy is to gain the time it needs to deliver more face-to-face services and care, that better supports the NHS, utilising digital technology is a big part of the solution.

‘So, as we work towards securing our next 500,000 patients by matching cutting-edge technology with great clinical skills and expertise, we hope to see more services move from doctors and hospitals to community pharmacy.’

The chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England, Keith Ridge, has also said that he sees a ‘clinical future’ for community pharmacy.

In an exclusive interview with the Pharmacist, Darrin Baines, a health economist, said that pharmacies should focus on their clinical skills and less so on dispensing so that online pharmacies such as Amazon Pharmacy are not a threat.

‘Face-to-face clinical services are not something that Amazon Pharmacy is likely to want or be able to provide,’ he said.