‘Disgraceful’ dispensing put patients at risk

A pharmacist proprietor has been struck off after dispensing anabolic androgenic steroids more than 4700 times to 828 patients in just over one year

A pharmacist and proprietor from Western Australia has had his registration cancelled in relation to his dispensing of anabolic androgenic steroids during a 16-month period, between 1 January 2008 and 30 April 2009.

While the 44-year-old Perth pharmacist applied for orders to strike-out the Pharmacy Board’s proceedings which were brought in 2017 – arguing that there had been an “unreasonable delay” – this application was dismissed in 2018.

During the relevant period, the pharmacist dispensed anabolic androgenic steroids in the form of Sustanon, Deca-Durabolin, stanozolol, oxandrolone, methandrostenolone and oxymetholone to patients in quantities and combinations which he ought to have known were not necessary for any therapeutic purpose, the WA State Administrative Tribunal heard.

At times, he was dispensing anabolic steroids to patients at a dosage rate of up to 14.8 times the recommended maximum rate for any therapeutic purpose.

The pharmacist was also found to have dispensed repeat authorisations or multiple prescriptions for these drugs in the same transaction, or in separate transactions when he ought to have known that the medication supplied was likely to constitute an “unacceptable hazard to health and had the potential for misuse, abuse or psychological or physical dependency”.

Most of the prescriptions submitted to the respondent for anabolic androgenic steroids were written by two medical practitioners. The pharmacist was not able to recall whether he questioned either doctor about prescribing multiple anabolic steroids for single patients.

In a separate instance, one patient presented prescriptions for 152 ampoules of Sustanon during the relevant period from four different doctors in circumstances where the prescription dates were in close proximity.

Anabolic androgenic steroids have the potential to be misused by patients seeking to increase muscle mass or enhance sporting ability. There is also the risk they can be on-sold to others.

Potential adverse side effects include but are not limited to acne, high blood pressure, increased low-density lipoprotein or decreased high-density lipoprotein, liver damage, cardiovascular disease, gynaecomastia, testicular atrophy, and increased aggression.

The Tribunal found the pharmacist had engaged in “professional misconduct”, and the pharmacist admitted to this misconduct.

His misconduct was labelled “intensive and voluminous”—during the relevant period there were 4737 dispensing episodes at an average dispensing rate of 296 per month, across a total of 828 patients for whom prescriptions were dispensed, the Tribunal said.

It also factored in that the respondent had almost 10 years’ experience as a pharmacist and was the owner of the pharmacy at the time of the conduct.

“His misconduct is not the result of youth or inexperience. He has also shown little remorse or responsibility for that misconduct,” said the Tribunal.

“The volume and extent of the respondent’s dispensing of anabolic steroids must be regarded as very significant and was, in the sense described in [another case], professionally ‘disgraceful or dishonourable’.

“The conduct was inconsistent with the respondent being a fit and proper person to hold registration as a pharmacist.”

The pharmacist was reprimanded, struck off the register and ordered to pay costs to the Pharmacy Board. He is disqualified from applying to re­register for at least three years.

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  1. Tony Lee

    And the 2-3 doctors who prescribed the anabolic steroids? Are they still practicing?

    • Sheshtyn Paola

      Hi Tony,
      Over 90% of the prescriptions were by two practitioners.
      The AHPRA website reveals one of the practitioners is not currently listed as registered, while the second is practising under conditions (with reprimand).
      Kind regards,
      Sheshtyn Paola
      (Journalist, AJP)

      • Ahmed

        So the other doctor is just reprimand while the pharmacist disqualified from applying to re­register for at least three years. How is that fair ?!!!

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