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.
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