Pharmacist jailed for illegal sale and supply of prescription medicines


A pharmacist was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today to twelve months imprisonment for selling hundreds of thousands of doses of addictive prescription drugs onto the black market. The medicines were sold at a huge profit during 2016 and 2017. The value of these medicines on the black market is estimated at over £1 million.


The pharmacist, 36, worked at his mother’s pharmacy in West Bromwich and made over £59,000 from the Class C drugs.


Following an investigation led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), investigators and partners from West Midlands Police visited the pharmacy. Records found on the premises showed that of hundreds of thousands of doses of diazepam, nitrazepam, tramadol, zolpidem and zopiclone purchased from wholesalers, only a small percentage had been dispensed against prescription.


This left more than 800,000 pills unaccounted for that the pharmacist later admitted he had sold to drug dealers.


The investigation began following allegations that the pharmacy was selling large quantities of prescription-only medicine without a prescription. When contacted about the investigation by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the pharmacist pretended to be his mother and said he was “shocked and blindsided” by the accusations. He then went on to provide falsified evidence intended to disprove the allegations.


While the pharmacist has admitted to the charges, he claims that after initially making a voluntary sale to drug dealers he was then forced to sell further medicines after he was threatened outside of his pharmacy. He has refused to provide any information on who these people were or who he sold to.


The pharmacist was suspended from the GPhC register under an interim order, meaning that he was unable to practice while waiting for the case to come to court.


His mother, whose pharmacy he worked at, was not involved in any of the criminal activity.


Grant Powell, the MHRA Enforcement officer leading the case, said:


“It is a serious criminal offence to sell controlled, unlicensed or prescription-only medicines in this way.


“Anyone who sells medicines illegally could be exploiting vulnerable people and clearly has no regard for their health or welfare. Prescription-only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision.


“We work closely with regulatory and law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those involved.


“If you think you have been offered a medicine illegally, or have any information about suspected or known illegal trading in medicines, please contact the MHRA.”


The pharmacist pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying controlled class C drugs at Birmingham Crown Court on 09/02/2021.


Elements of this article are being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.



Son of pharmacy owner jailed for illegal supply of controlled drugs


Following an investigation by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) a man from north London has been sentenced to 6 years in prison at Croydon Crown Court.


David Ihenagwa, 40, of Edmonton, north London was convicted for offences of supplying class B and class C controlled drugs, using his mother’s east London pharmacy as a criminal enterprise. He pleaded guilty to 1 charge of supplying class B drugs and 4 charges of supplying class C drugs from September 2015 to April 2016.


MHRA officers seized 13,440 Codeine Phosphate tablets from an address in Stoke- on- Trent on 8 June 2016. These were traced back to the pharmacy where Ihenagwa worked. The MHRA discovered that Ihenagwa purchased the tablets from a licensed wholesale dealer in Surrey and operated the criminal enterprise from his mother’s pharmacy business in east London where he worked as company secretary.


MHRA investigations showed that Ihenagwa regularly purchased far larger quantities of controlled drugs than would normally be dispensed from a high street pharmacy. Further investigations revealed that Ihenagwa had sold medicines on at least 23 separate occasions to a criminal group. Typically, the drugs would be collected by the gang, by the van load, from the pharmacy where Ihenagwa worked and shipped around the country.


Ihenagwa was charged with supplying Codeine Phosphate, a class B drug and 4 charges of supplying Diazepam, Zopiclone, Lorazepam, and Tramadol, all class C drugs. All the drugs are prescription-only medicines. Proceedings to confiscate the proceeds of Ihenagwa’s criminal activity are now underway.


Mark Jackson, MHRA Head of Enforcement said:


“It is a serious criminal offence to sell controlled drugs which are also prescription-only medicines without a prescription.


“We work relentlessly with regulatory and law enforcement colleagues to identify and prosecute those involved.


“Those who sell medicines illegally are exploiting vulnerable people and have no regard for their health. Prescription-only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision.”