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Digital certificate security by Royal Mail ViaCode - soon to protect the electronic distribution of pathology results to GPs - continues its penetration of UK healthcare with the announcement today that it will also secure electronic prescriptions.

A year-long pilot will see doctors in Stockport and London using ViaCode certificates to digitally sign and encrypt electronic prescriptions for e-mailing direct to pharmacists.

The pilot is being project managed by Pharmacy2U Ltd, the UK's leading on-line and mail order pharmacy service (

The pilot - one of three announced by the Government - starts in October and will conclude with an independent study by the University of Newcastle which is expected to be followed by a nationwide roll-out. The Government has indicated that the electronic transmission of NHS prescriptions will be commonplace across the country by 2004.

ViaCode is already the managed certificate provider behind the NHS pathology messaging service which later this year will begin mailing laboratory test results direct to 9,000 English GPs’ computers, replacing slower and more costly paper reports and ending the need to re-key information. In both systems, ViaCode digital certificates - a form of electronic passport - apply cryptography to electronic messages, ensuring the privacy, authenticity and integrity of patient information.

Launched in November 1999, and fully registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), Pharmacy2U already provides consumers with Web-based 24 hour a day access to over 7000 products including private and NHS prescriptions, pharmacy and over-the-counter medicines.

The company's e-mail and phone ‘Ask our Pharmacists’ service gives confidential answers to health and medical problems. More recently a mail order pharmacy has been added with the launch of Pharmacy2U’s first catalogue in May 2001.

Pharmacy2U business development director and ETP pilot project manager Dr Julian Harrison says the choice of security provider was key to a fast and assured start to the prescription trial. "ViaCode’s expertise gives us a huge advantage. Its proven digital security service helps ensure that patients and doctors can have confidence right from day one."

ViaCode ( is one of Europe's largest providers of managed certificate services with a fast-growing customer base in industry, commerce and the public sector. It provides fully managed personal, corporate and Web server digital certificates to standards that have set an international benchmark for thoroughness and integrity.

ViaCode digital certificates are issued only after rigorous proof of identity and are instantly revocable with immediate system-wide effect. They use full-strength 128-bit cryptography for top security while separate key pairs for encryption and signing mean the digital signatures they generate are non-deniable.

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Further editorial information:

The Sage Partnership:
Kevin Fiske – 0118 9344007

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