With the explosion of the internet and more and more people using it to perform their everyday tasks, more and more pharmacies are choosing to take their pharmacy online. There are two kinds of pharmacy website, a brochure site and an E commerce site. A brochure website simply advertises the services the pharmacy provides and an E commerce site enables the pharmacy to sell medicines and other products through the website.
With more and more internet pharmacies popping up it has become apparent that many pharmacy owners are not fully aware of the legal framework that surrounds and governs the online trading of pharmacies
The basic legal issues that affect pharmacy websites are:
- Web accessibility
- Regulatory/compliance legislation
- Data Protection
Web accessibility – The Equality Act 2010 (EA) means that pharmacies have a legal requirement to provide a website that is accessible to disabled users and also that it is not “unreasonably difficult” for disabled people to use the service. The EA applies to an internet pharmacy whether or not they are taking payments or not. If you employ a website developer to design and build your internet pharmacy they will also need to be aware of EA and fulfill their obligations when it comes to building and maintaining your internet pharmacy.
There are a few things that pharmacy website developers can do to make sure the website is accessible, for example:
- Text and images can be increased in size, background colours can be changed and contrast levels should be high enough to assist visually impaired customers.
- The website can be fully utilised through a keyboard as well as a mouse for customers with motor or visual impairments or others who may not have good hand-eye co-ordination.
- Any video/podcasts have captions/sign language versions to assist customers with hearing difficulties.
By adhering to the points mentioned above when the website is being developed you will be able to minimise the need for further changes and development expenses at a later date. It is very important that you have a discussion with your website developer about the steps you can take to make your website accessible and your developer should definitely be familiar with the Web Accessibility Initiative as well as the EA. Your internet pharmacy developer should ideally be able to recommend features to you that will help with accessibility compliance.
All pharmacy owners who are planning on having an internet pharmacy developed should be clear on the fact that there are some very important legal issues that they need to be aware of before they employ any website developer to create or update their internet pharmacy.