Private-Rx was started in 1998, after Simon Whitaker saw a need for a closed discussion group for pharmacists. Simon has been a key shaper of electronic communication between pharmacists in the United Kingdom. Before Private-Rx, Simon had created uk.sci.med.pharmacy and you can still read the initial proposal for its creation here. However uk.sci.med.pharmacywas open to anyone and had developed a tendency to attract single issue campaigners.
As Simon said at the time, ‘No one-issue trolls!’ would be allowed access to Private-Rx.
Initially numbers where small at around 30, but within a year the membership of the list grew to 160. Simon had been aided in building up Private-Rx by suggestions, constructive criticisms and general help from members of the mailing list. Notably David Kent helped greatly in the processing of new applicants. After this hectic first year Simon established a ‘steering group’ of list members and this group has continued to the present day, with some changes. Paul Baker, Sally Haynes, Chris Livsey were early members who have since left. Angela Alexander and Martin Bennett have subsequently joined. During this time membership rose inexorably, largely through word of mouth, to nearly 1400.
Over the years changes have been made to Private-Rx, a chat-list to keep football off the list and the addition of a tech list. However the main purpose of Private-Rx has continued: the free and unmoderated exchange of views between pharmacists, regardless of time or place. Private-Rx’s contribution to continuing professional development has been formally evaluated. Simon Whitaker, Angela Alexander and Anthony Cox presented their work on this at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in 2000.
Simon devoted four years to developing the Private-Rx mailing lists in his own time with no external funding. His selfless devotion to the single-handed building and maintenance of this highly valued channel of communication between all pharmacists was well appreciated.
In December 2001, realising that he was unable to maintain a project of this size as a hobby and after exploring a variety of funding methods, Simon sold Private-Rx to medM Ltd. Simon was reassured about the sale as he believed it would allow Private-Rx to continue to be guided by the steering group, free for users and ensure its continued growth.
Private-Rx is now managed by the Steering Group and continues the ethos that Private-Rx was built upon: to bring pharmacists closer together. Most recently a hospital pharmacy list and a prescribing advisors list have been created.
Published research on Private-Rx
Whitaker S, Cox AR, Alexander AM. Internet networking for pharmacists: an evaluation of a mailing list for UK pharmacists. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice. 2003;11:25â€“32 [Abstract]
Whitaker S, Cox AR, Alexander AM The members, the medium and the message: an evaluation of Private-Rx, the information network for UK pharmacists. The Pharmaceutical Journal 2000;265 :R73 (suppl British Pharmaceutical Conference, Birmingham) [text]