Healthcare provider Phoenix UK has bought online prescription service Co-op Health in a bid to expand into the growing digital pharmacy market.

Phoenix UK announced today (12 March) that it had acquired the service for an undisclosed sum and said it would ‘take it to the next level through its Numark and Rowlands network’.

The Co-op Health service enables people to order medication via an app or online for collection at a pharmacy or for home delivery, Phoenix UK said.

It added that the acquisition would help independents to ‘compete against the likes of’ other online pharmacies.

This comes as online pharmacy Echo, owned by LloydsPharmacy, announced earlier this week that it had partnered with Royal Mail to trial a faster prescription delivery service.

In December, the Pharmacist also exclusively reported that Amazon Pharmacy had become a registered trademark in the UK, raising the prospect of a UK online pharmacy launch.

Digital and physical access

Phoenix UK said that it plans to rebrand Co-op Health and incorporate it into its Numark and Rowlands Pharmacy network, so that patients can receive personalised care from a pharmacist while also experiencing the benefits and convenience of a digital and home delivery prescription service.

Commenting on the acquisition, Jeremy Meader, managing director at Numark, highlighted the ‘critical role’ pharmacists have in providing face-to-face care and advice.

‘Digital and physical access need to be two sides of the same coin; each complementing and supplementing the other. Too often we see companies offering digital services which seek to bypass and commercially undermine local community pharmacies,’ he said.

‘We will offer a market-disruptive alternative: bricks & mortar aligned with digital outreach which combines the convenience of online access for patients with the personal face-to-face professional advice people need as medical conditions are quite often complex.’

Mr Meader added that he believed the acquisition would help to ‘future-proof’ Numark members.