Disqualified after prescribing to sex workers

The Medical Board has issued a statement about Dr Syed Islam, who has been reprimanded after a pharmacist called the police about a suspect script

Dr Islam has been disqualified from applying for registration for 14 months, after he inappropriately prescribed medications and was dishonest with the Board, the regulator said.

The Medical Board began an investigation into Dr Syed Islam’s conduct after Victoria Police informed Ahpra about allegations about his prescribing.

A commercial sex worker, identified in a court transcript only as Patient D, had brought a script for 28 tablets, of MS Contin 100mg to a pharmacy to be dispensed, but the pharmacist became suspicious.

The pharmacist called the doctor to verify it, but he did not take to opportunity to cancel it, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

The script was written on the prescription pad of a colleague.

The pharmacist then called Victoria Police about the script, and police interviewed Patient D that day.

She told them that she had obtained it from Dr Islam after he had hired her for sexual services, and an investigation ensued.

During the course of that investigation, it became apparent that the doctor inappropriately prescribed medications (diazepam, oxycodone, alprazolam and/or MS Contin) to commercial sex workers he had hired on eight occasions without conducting an assessment or examination or making clinical record.

The Board highlighted that he also “engaged in dishonesty and theft (including pleading guilty to criminal charges of theft and making a false document), in stealing and forging a doctor’s name on a prescription pad and falsely denying he had done so to the Board during an immediate action process”.

Dr Islam had also inappropriately prescribed medicines, including Viagra, to himself and a family member – his then wife, to whom he prescribed the Sandoz generic, as well as Proxen 75 and Voltaren 50 – without her knowledge.

The tribunal found that Dr Islam had engaged in professional misconduct, reprimanded him, cancelled his registration and disqualified him from applying for re-registration for 14 months.

“In its reasons, the tribunal indicated that a longer period of disqualification period would have been appropriate but for relevant mitigating factors, including stressors at the time of the conduct, insight and remorse, and delays attributable to COVID-19,” the Board said in a statement.

As reported by the AJP last year, Dr Islam had said that he had difficulty saying “no” because he had been raised in a very patriarchal culture, and that this could be a factor in his difficulty refusing requests by drug-seeking individuals.

However, as pointed out by the tribunal at the time, it had “difficulty unpacking” his claims that the sex workers had asked for the drugs, querying how they knew of his profession and that he would be willing to prescribe outside a clinical consultation.

“In imposing the disqualification period, the tribunal took into account the approximate 27 months that Dr Islam had already served out of practice suspended under immediate action imposed on 22 May 2018,” the Medical Board said.

“The tribunal indicated the seriousness with which it viewed Dr Islam’s behaviour, finding he completely disregarded the potential for harm to a vulnerable patient group and that the conduct had the potential to significantly undermine the public’s confidence in the profession.”

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1 Comment

  1. Jarrod McMaugh

    worth pointing out that prescribing medication for sex workers isn’t illegal(nor should it be), but using prescriptions as payment for any service – especially without appropriate clinical examination – is where this doctor went wrong.

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