First HSA-registered e-pharmacy in Singapore launched

The WellAway platform's service is catered to doctors, who will be charged a nominal fee for its usage. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WELLAWAY E-PHARMACY/YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - Pharmaceutical company Hyphens Pharma officially launched the first e-pharmacy in Singapore to be registered under the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Thursday (Jan 13).

The e-pharmacy, WellAway, acts as a digital platform where registered doctors can give e-prescriptions to patients and have the prescribed medicine delivered to patients' homes within three hours.

Managed by Hyphens Pharma's new digital ventures division DocMed, the platform's service is catered to doctors, who will be charged a nominal fee for its usage.

More than 140 clinics have signed up during the beta phase of the e-pharmacy, with about 20 prescriptions being delivered each day.

The beta phase of WellAway started from June 2021 after HSA awarded the licence in January that year.

By the end of this year, Hyphens Pharma expects 1,000 active clinics to come on board, with about 40 prescriptions delivered daily.

Aimed at the private medical sector, the new e-pharmacy will service doctors in private hospitals and clinics, general practitioners as well as telehealth providers.

WellAway follows stringent HSA guidelines which include the safe supply and delivery of medication and the protection of patient data.

Temperature-sensitive medication will also be delivered in temperature-controlled boxes.

According to the HSA website, other requirements that e-pharmacies have to comply with in order to be registered include ensuring that e-prescriptions are sent directly from the clinics to the e-pharmacy to prevent them from being changed or reused, are traceable to the prescribing doctors and with cyber security in place.

Another HSA requirement states that such pharmacies will need a qualified pharmacist to take charge of pharmacy operations, including proper storage and supply of the registered therapeutic products.

The medicine delivery service is aimed mainly at patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure as they need to stock up on their medicine regularly, said DocMed chief executive officer designate Timothy Chen.

The service is especially useful for patients who are elderly, immobile, self-isolating or just prefer to reduce their contact time outdoors especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Hyphens Pharma in a statement on Monday (Jan 10).

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"When doctors don't stock the required drugs in their pharmacy, they have to give the prescription to their patients to obtain the medicine from retail pharmacies. With WellAway, doctors can still sell medicine to their patients without keeping as many drugs in stock," said Mr Chen.

He added that DocMed will be looking to offer more digital services, platforms and analytical tools for both clinics and doctors "to better empower them to serve their patients more effectively".

"Our e-pharmacy is an empowerment by technology to provide patients with greater convenience, safety and efficiency in obtaining their medicine - we hope that it can create a paradigm shift in fulfilling medicine prescriptions," Mr Chen said.

In March 2021, it was reported that the Ministry of Health planned to set up a national pharmacy to consolidate medication delivery across public healthcare institutions from 2022.

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