‘Commendable commitment’ to dealing with health challenges

A young pharmacist has been cautioned for dispensing Duromine and diazepam to herself without a prescription, but applauded for her diligence in getting help

The pharmacist, who is qualified but presently unregistered, was 27 years old when she dispensed the Schedule 4 drugs to herself on two separate occasions in March 2016.

At the time, she had only been working as a pharmacist for just over two years, having completed her internship in community pharmacy between 2014 and 2015.

From June 2015 until April 2016 she worked as a pharmacist and then pharmacy manager at a community pharmacy north-west of Brisbane. It was during this work stint that the “unprofessional conduct” took place, as ruled by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in its decision handed down this month.

Between May 2016 and January 2017, she worked in other pharmacies. She is currently living in Adelaide and not working in the profession.

A psychiatrist report provided to Ahpra in August 2016 revealed a diagnosis of prescription drug substance abuse disorder, while medical records indicated that in 2015 and 2016, the pharmacist was referred by the GP under a mental health plan to a psychologist, who revealed she had been suffering severe stress related to her work.

From 2010 until 2017 she was prescribed various drugs for depression, insomnia, anxiety and migraine.

“The conduct to which the respondent admits seems to be a product of impaired judgment at a time when she was severely stressed and her GP was incapacitated as a result of an accident,” the tribunal found.

“At the time she was taking a number of prescribed medications for her mental health and insomnia, and her work situation relating to her relationship with her manager had deteriorated. She otherwise appears to have been a competent and capable professional.

“The respondent dispensed medications to herself on two occasions within a four-day period. She did this in circumstances in which she intended to dispense the medications to herself on the basis of a ‘script owing’ basis, rather than by deceit or for dishonest reasons,” the tribunal said.

“She also made admissions early and has fully co-operated in these proceedings and has been diligent in addressing her health issues which no doubt caused her loss of judgment,” it determined.

The tribunal imposed a caution, reminding all pharmacists to be scrupulous in dealing with Schedule 4 drugs, particularly in the maintenance of proper records.

However it also applauded the pharmacist’s efforts to make positive changes.

“Since her move to Adelaide, the respondent has shown commendable commitment to dealing with her health issues,” it said.

“She has a regular GP and is seeing both a psychologist and a psychiatrist and is stable from a mental health point of view and capable of working as a pharmacist if she was registered and chose to do so.”

If the respondent does apply to be registered again in the future, both parties agreed that she will have to satisfy the Pharmacy Board in terms of recency of practice, now having not practiced for over three years, and that she is not impaired and otherwise suitable to be registered again.

There was no order as to costs.

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1 Comment

  1. Kay Dunkley

    The Pharmacists’ Support Service provides non-judgemental support to all pharmacists, pharmacy interns and students whatever the circumstances. Pharmacists supporting pharmacists. Available over the phone on 1300244910 every day of the year from 8am to 11pm AEST.

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