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Breaches of medicines legislation and an attempt to deceive the regulator leads to removal from Register

By News Team

Fitness to practise committee meeting

A number of breaches of medicines legislation have led the Fitness-to-Practise Committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council to order the removal from the Register of an Iranian man who qualified as a pharmacist in Italy.

At its meeting on 23 May 2011, the committee heard that Gholamreza Youseffi (registration number 2052849) had:

•    Failed to record 139 private prescriptions in a private prescriptions register
•    Supplied a Controlled Drug in such a way as to contravene the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001
•    Supplied a patient with medicines against an unsigned prescription
•    Supplied medicines in unlabelled packages with Arabic handwriting on the boxes
•    Admitted that he hand-wrote labels because “it was quicker”
•    Supplied three patients with a medicine against faxed prescriptions, the originals of which were not available for inspection
•    Unlawfully conducted a retail pharmacy business in the absence of a superintendent pharmacist
•    Breached an undertaking imposed by the regulator that he would continue to improve his knowledge and command of the English language and take immediate steps to obtain the standard of level 6 on the International English Language Testing System run by the British Council within three years from October 2004

The committee also heard that Mr Youseffi had, in 2008, been tried on and convicted of dishonestly making false representations (producing a forged IELTS certificate to the regulator that purported to show that he had reached level 6 when he had not). For that he had been ordered to pay a fine of £1,500 (in default to serve 30 days’ imprisonment) and £1,500 costs.

Mr Youseffi was not present at the hearing and was not represented.

John Hepworth, of Blake Lapthorn, solicitors, appeared on behalf of the GPhC.

Sloppy and incompetent management

Giving the committee’s decision, the chairman, Christopher Gibson, QC, said the committee had found that there were sustained examples of sloppy and incompetent management of his pharmacy practice when it was inspected. There was a deliberate flouting of his undertaking not to act as his own superintendent pharmacist, and he failed to reach the level in English within the generous time that was allowed by his undertaking of three years. Further, in the knowledge that he had not reached the promised level of competence in English, he dishonestly produced a forged certificate to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (the previous regulator) to pretend that he had. He denied the subsequent charge in respect of that at trial, but he was convicted.

“In our judgment this level of dishonesty in his dealing with the Society, to deceive it into believing that his English had reached a safe standard and the promised standard when it had not, is by far the most important and serious of . . . the allegations against him, which we have no hesitation in finding amounted to misconduct, as he has himself accepted in his response to the council in respect of these proceedings,” the chairman said. “By his actions Mr Youseffi has brought his profession into disrepute, and he has breached its fundamental tenets, and he has further shown that his integrity can no longer be relied upon. Mr Youseffi has made no attempt before us to explain his actions or demonstrate any insight into the seriousness of what he has done and . . . we have no hesitation in holding that his fitness to practise is impaired.”

The committee found that there were aggravating factors in what Mr Youseffi did. “His misconduct and deficient professional practice was sustained and repeated. He failed to comply with a specific undertaking to the Society. He was guilty of misconduct when he was in charge of pharmacy premises, and there was a potential for harm to patients,” the chairman said. But, most seriously, there was a premeditated and deliberately dishonest attempt to mislead the regulator into believing that he had passed an IELTS test at an acceptable level when he had not.

Ordering Mr Youseffi’s suspension pending removal from the Register, the chairman said: “We have borne in mind that he has admitted the misconduct which we have found but, in the light of the aggravating circumstances which I have set out, and in the circumstances of those facts, in our judgement the only sanction that meets the seriousness of the misconduct, and the dishonesty surrounding the conviction, and the only sanction that can maintain confidence in the profession, is removal from the Register.”

Mr Youseffi had 28 days to appeal against the committee’s decision and was removed from the Register on 4 July 2011.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11080593

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