BBC sting continues to see fall-out with striking-off of pharmacist

The regulator has struck a pharmacist off the register for unlawfully selling prescription-only medicines and is due to hear more cases over the coming month.

General Pharmaceutical Council signage

A London pharmacist’s claim that he was making emergency supplies when he sold prescription-only medicines (POMs) to an undercover reporter was not plausible, a fitness-to-practise (FTP) committee ruled as it struck him off. 

The case arises from a 2012 BBC Inside Out documentary where the pharmacist was filmed supplying 300ml of the controlled drug Oramorph solution, amoxicillin, Augmentin and diazepam between August 2012 and November 2012. 

Hussain Jamal Rasool said that he was making emergency supplies at a pharmacy in Paddington, west London, but the evidence showed that conditions relating to emergency supplying had not been met. Therefore the FTP committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council, the regulator, deemed them to be unlawful. Rasool had been subject to an interim suspension order by the regulator in January 2013, however his erasure from the register is in response to a FTP hearing heard in August 2014. 

Rasool denied that he had even supplied Oramorph, claiming that it had been taken without his knowledge, consent or authority. However, the film footage showed him accepting money for the medicine. It also showed that he was likely to have seen the Oramorph being placed in a bag and handed to the reporter. 

Patrick Milmo, QC, the committee’s chairman, said Rasool “must have seen the reporter leave with the plastic bag, to which he clearly raised no objection. If, as Rasool claims, the medicine had not been paid for… it is extraordinary that he would allow him to leave without any objection.” 

Milmo added that if Rasool did not believe the Oramorph to be in the reporter’s bag his actions would be equally extraordinary for number of reasons. The reporter had ordered the Oramorph as a matter of urgency, had returned to collect it, had waited for some time for it to arrive and then, when it did arrive, according to Rasool, he left without it. 

“That, in our view, is simply not credible,” the chairman said. 

Rasool claimed that he had asked the “patient” to consult a doctor before he would supply the Oramorph. But that was at odds with the lack of any reference to a doctor in the recorded conversational exchanges between Rasool and the reporter, Milmo said. 

Nor had Rasool reported any “theft” when he realised, as he claimed, the Oramorph had been taken. Rather, he made a “largely fictitious” entry of an emergency supply in the record. 

Ordering Rasool’s name to be struck from the register, the chairman said the committee had been shocked by the manner in which the registrant had been prepared “casually, peremptorily and without any proper inquiry” to hand out POMs to a stranger for cash.

Furthermore, there was “hard, incontrovertible evidence” that the unlawful supply of POMs had been going on for months, and might have continued had it not been for the BBC investigation. 

Milmo said Rasool had no genuine insight into the dangers his conduct posed to patients or the public. He had remained oblivious to the enormity of what he was doing and might act in the same way again if allowed to continue to practise. 

Rasool is the third pharmacist to be dealt with by the GPhC following the BBC investigation. Two other pharmacists have already been suspended from the Register with their hearings expected shortly: Rafif Sarheed’s case starts on 16 September and Paul Edward Healy’s on 24 September 2014

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 27 September 2014, Vol 293, No 7829;293(7829):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066476

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