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Pharmacist removed from Register after attempted theft from employer

Attempted theft from his employer has led to the removal of a pharmacist’s name from the Register by order of the fitness-to-practise committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council.

On 3 December 2013, the committee inquired into the case of Mohsin Issop (registration number 2080138). Information had been received that, on 4 June 2013 at Manchester Crown Court, Mr Issop had been convicted of attempted theft. For this he had been sentenced to a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work, and a fine of £60 to be paid within 28 days.

It was alleged that Mr Issop’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of this criminal conviction.

Mr Issop was present at the inquiry and was represented by Graham Southall-Edwards, of EPLS.

Mark Millin, solicitor advocate, appeared on behalf of the GPhC.

The committee heard that Mr Issop registered as a pharmacist on 1 August 2012 and began working as pharmacy manager at a pharmacy in Hyde, near Manchester. On 16 November 2012, which was his last day of work at the pharmacy, he took a packet of 28 diazepam 10mg tablets and a packet of 28 nitrazepam 5mg tablets from the dispensary and put them into a plastic carrier bag that he had brought into work with him. His employers were informed of this and they attended the pharmacy and asked Mr Issop to open the bag.

As he did so he flicked the drugs out of the bag and immediately denied they had ever been there. He gave a range of excuses, including saying that he had put the drugs aside for a prescription which a friend was going to bring into the pharmacy. The police were called and he was arrested on suspicion of theft.

When he was interviewed, he continued to deny that he had been intending to steal the drugs and he suggested that there had been a misunderstanding. He indicated a “not guilty” plea at the magistrates’ court and was sent for trial at the crown court. However, on the day fixed for trial, he pleaded guilty to attempted theft on the basis that he had intended to steal but had not completed the appropriation of the drugs because they were not actually removed by him from the dispensary.

The committee further heard that the judge in the case said that he had dealt with Mr Issop on the basis that he had taken the drugs for his own use and added it was a pity that such a newly qualified professional as Mr Issop had done his bit in such a short space of time to bring the profession into disrepute.

“Ridiculous thought”

Mr Issop, in his evidence to the committee, said that he had been suffering from chronic back pain and sleepless nights and that, on the day in question, he had had the “ridiculous thought” of medicating himself with some benzodiazepines. He maintained that if he had been allowed to finish his shift, there would have been a good chance that he would not have taken the medicines from the pharmacy.

Giving the committee’s decision, the chairman, Douglas Readings, said that Mr Issop’s behaviour had presented a risk to patients and the pubic. “The drugs in question were benzodiazepines, which can only be supplied on prescription, but which are frequently misused as recreational drugs. It is therefore important that pharmacists maintain proper controls over them,” he said. Furthermore, Mr Issop’s conduct had brought the profession into disrepute and showed that his integrity could not be relied upon.

He continued: “When a pharmacist decides to medicate himself with benzodiazepines without a prescription there is a serious risk to the public from the undermining of the proper controls over prescription-only medicines.” Mr Issop had been dishonest and abused the trust placed in him by his employers. And there was a history of trying to conceal wrongdoing by lying and putting forward fictitious explanations. “This is particularly serious in a pharmacist because it is important that a pharmacist who makes a mistake, such as a dispensing error, must be able to acknowledge his mistake and take steps to correct it.”

The chairman concluded by saying that a clear message needed to be sent to the profession and to the public that dishonesty in a pharmacy professional, particularly the theft of medicines, will be dealt with severely. He ordered that Mr Issop’s name be removed from the Register because his behaviour was fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.

Mr Issop was immediately suspended from the Register pending the coming into force of the erasure order.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11135504

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