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Fitness to practise

Fifth pharmacist falls foul of regulator after BBC sting

A superintendent pharmacist has been suspended from practice for 12 months after his sales assistant was filmed selling amoxicillin and Viagra to an undercover reporter.

Paul Edward Healy is the fifth pharmacist to appear before the General Pharmaceutical Council’s fitness-to-practise committee as a result of a BBC television Inside Out investigation broadcast in 2012.

The unlawful sales were filmed at Al Razi Pharmacy, Edgware Road, London, on 27 September 2012.

Healy told the committee that he had handed amoxicillin to the assistant, but he did not think the medicine would be sold.

However, the video evidence satisfied the committee that Healy knew she was going to sell it. Similarly, the video showed that he failed to exercise any supervision when the assistant was searching for Viagra in an area where prescription-only medicines were kept only a foot or so away from him.

The committee heard that most of the pharmacy customers and staff were Arabic speaking. Chairman Patrick Milmo, QC, said that Healy — “a young and comparatively inexperienced pharmacist” — may have felt “culturally and linguistically isolated” and, therefore, “intimidated and overwhelmed” by his working environment. “He got on with his own job and at best ignored what was going on around him. He did not have the courage to intervene or control the staff.”

Ordering his suspension for 12 months, Milmo said the committee accepted the circumstances of his offences were unusual. “We are persuaded that he is at heart not untrustworthy or without regard to the proper standards of behaviour expected of a pharmacist.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20067314

Readers' comments (2)

  • Surely to preserve one's professional integrity, it is necessary to decide where we are prepared to work. In a varied career over 30 years, including 22 years locuming in community, I have never agreed to work anywhere where I was not 100% sure that I could perform my full duties regarding supervision. Yes, there have been challenging times, where I have had to intervene and take the rap from embarrassed or angry customers and staff, but I slept soundly, knowing that to the best of my ability I had delivered good, legal health care.

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  • What surprises me is the juxtaposition of the words 'superintendent' and 'young and comparatively inexperienced' pharmacist. It's not like this was a visiting, vowed locum. This was the super-responsible responsible pharmacist!

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