Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Fitness to practise

More than 20 pharmacists facing fitness to practise investigations over POM black market

After allegations of the illegal diversion of prescription-only medicines from the NHS medicines supply chain on to the online black market, six pharmacists have been suspended from practice by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive and registrar of the General Pharmaceutical Council,

Source: GPhC

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive and registrar of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said they have taken action to suspend six pharmacists and are reviewing whether they need to take further action to protect the public

Some 23 pharmacists are facing fitness to practise investigations over the illegal diversion of prescription-only medicines (POMs) from the NHS medicines supply chain to the online black market.

Six of these pharmacists have been suspended from practice under interim orders, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the independent regulator for pharmacy in Great Britain, confirmed on 4 May 2018.

The figures emerged as the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the medicines safety watchdog, revealed the latest details of its ongoing UK-wide investigation into the illegal racket, which it estimates has involved up to £200m of POMs between 2013 and 2016.

The MHRA confirmed on 4 May 2018 that, so far, 44 individuals have been arrested as part of its ongoing inquiries. Eight of these are known to be pharmacists and one has been charged, the watchdog revealed.

The investigation, originally launched by the MHRA in 2016, is focusing on benzodiazepines and anxiolytics, including diazepam and zopiclone and the painkiller tramadol. Both registered pharmacies and wholesalers are thought to play a part in the criminal activity. The MHRA believes approximately 50 pharmacies may be involved — some unwittingly.

Alastair Jeffrey, the MHRA’s head of enforcement, said: “It is a serious criminal offence to sell medicines outside of the regulated supply chain and we are working relentlessly with regulatory and law enforcement colleagues to identify and prosecute all those involved in this activity.

“We have opened over 30 individual investigations and we will continue to concentrate our efforts on identifying the criminals involved and ensure they are prosecuted through the courts.”

The MHRA said its latest analysis of bulk orders of diverted medicines reveal a “significant” drop in the large scale orders of POMs between 2016 and 2017, suggesting its crackdown is already having an impact.

In a statement, it said: “Our investigations look at the supply chain … and have identified a number of websites that are outlets for diverted products. We have identified three websites where there has been approximately £55m transacted for medicinal products.”

The GPhC said that any further action against the 23 registrants who are subject to the fitness to practise investigation will depend on the outcome of the MHRA’s inquiry.

Duncan Rudkin, the chief executive and registrar of the GPhC, said in a statement: “We are working closely with the MHRA on a major ongoing investigation into the diversion of prescription medicines away from the normal supply chain. We have already taken action to suspend six pharmacists under interim orders and are actively reviewing at each stage of the investigations whether we need to take further action to protect the public.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204809

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • BNF and BNF for Children

    BNF and BNF for Children

    Now available as a 1 year print subscription to both the BNF and BNFC, ensuring you have the latest medicines information as it publishes and at a greatly reduced price.

    £138.50Buy now
  • BNF and BNF for Children

    BNF and BNF for Children

    Now available as a 2 year print subscription to both the BNF and BNFC, ensuring you have the latest medicines information as it publishes and at a greatly reduced price.

    £262.50Buy now
  • Pharmaceutical Statistics

    Pharmaceutical Statistics

    This book on basic statistics has been specifically written for pharmacy students.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice

    Patient Care in Community Practice is a unique, practical guide for healthcare professionals or carers. Covers a range of non-medicinal products suitable for use at home.

    £22.00Buy now
  • Clinical Pharmacokinetics

    Clinical Pharmacokinetics

    A practical guide to the use of pharmacokinetic principles in clinical practice. Includes case studies with questions and answers.

    £33.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Duncan Rudkin, chief executive and registrar of the General Pharmaceutical Council,

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.