Sainsbury and Boots team up

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SHOPPERS will soon be able to drop their prescriptions into the trolley alongside the weekly purchases after a deal between the Sainsbury supermarket group and Boots, the chemist chain, writes Gail Counsell.

Boots is to open concessionary pharmacies in seven Sainsbury stores in St Albans, Ipswich, Dulwich, Camberley, Poole, Sevenoaks and Hemel Hempstead. As well as dispensing drugs, the pharmacies, to be operated on a trial basis, will stock Boots health and beauty products and offer a film developing service.

Analysts said the move appeared defensive for Boots. Two other supermarket groups, Safeway and Tesco, have acquired their own pharmacy licences and have had dispensaries on trial in a small number of stores for some time.

In the past the limited number of licences for sale has restricted growth. But changes in the way in which pharmacists are paid by the NHS will put the emphasis on economies of scale and are likely to force more small pharmacies to sell.