Small pharmacies must be protected or they will fade away in a "death by a thousand cuts", MPs have warned.
Major supermarkets offering pharmacy services were "sucking in" customers from other outlets, it was explained, while Shadow Health Minister Mark Simmonds complained new regulations caused "serious confusion and real concern" in smaller shops.
Health Minister Mike O'Brien has promised legislation to aid the smaller facilities, with local NHS trusts instructed to consider a community's varying needs. He added that the new Responsible Pharmacist regulations would be applied "flexibly".
During Commons question time, Tory Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) said: "If the supermarkets suck in some of the customers from the independent pharmacists, what we are going to see is death by a thousand cuts."
Mr O'Brien replied: "We certainly do want local pharmacies to both survive and to thrive."
He said measures in the Health Bill, which went before the Commons on Tuesday, would encourage PCTs to ensure that needs in their area were catered for, adding: "What we do know is that different parts of the community have different needs."