Drug theft included human growth hormone

A pharmacist convicted of drug theft has been reprimanded and her provisional registration cancelled for professional misconduct

Sara Shadi Kazeme, a provisionally registered pharmacist, was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria in November 2016 for theft and attempted theft of prescription only medicines as well as other pharmaceutical items.

She stole a number of items including S4 medicines, cosmetics, skin care products and vitamins from the Como Compounding Pharmacy, where she worked, committing 83 separate instances of theft of pharmaceuticals and other items between February 2014 and June 2015, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has heard.

Ms Kazeme handled the stolen pharmaceuticals without the supervision of a pharmacist who held general registration; created false compound request forms for the stolen pharmaceuticals – which incorrectly described the package’s contents and falsely indicated the items had been paid for – and after packaging the stolen pharmaceuticals, had them posted to various addresses and people in the community, including her own address, it heard.

She released stolen pharmaceuticals into the community without prescription or control, it heard.

On 29 June 2015, Ms Kazeme attempted to commit another theft of pharmaceuticals from the store, including 6 x SciTropin 5mg/1.5mL; 4 x CJC+Ipamorelin 2000mcg/mL x 5mL vials; 2 x Melanotan II 5mL vials; and 2 x Human Chorlonic Gonadotropin 3.3mL vials.

At the time, she was in a position of trust as a provisionally registered pharmacist and an employee of the pharmacy. Ms Kazeme had started work as a provisionally registered pharmacist in January 2014.

Ms Kazeme was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria on 23 November 2016, on one rolled-up charge of theft, in regard to the 83 instances; and one charge of attempted theft relating to the events of 29 June.

The Pharmacy Board had received a notification in mid-2015 from Ms Kazeme’s employer, her approved preceptor, about the theft and attempted theft of drugs.

In early 2016, the Pharmacy Council of NSW informed the Board that Ms Kazeme’s provisional registration had been suspended by immediate action for unrelated conduct, connected to her role with a business in NSW which provided infusions of vitamins and other medicines.

Soon after, Victoria Police notified the Board that Ms Kazeme had been charged with offences relating to the misappropriation of drugs and other pharmacy items.

The Board’s allegations to the tribunal of Ms Kazeme’s professional misconduct were based on the convictions for the theft and attempted theft of both prescription and non-prescription medications and pharmaceutical items, which included vials of drugs commonly misused for image enhancing purposes, such as human growth hormone, as well as pharmacist only strength topical solutions.

Ms Kazeme accepted the Board’s allegations that she had packaged the items at the pharmacy and created false orders in various names to send the packages to addresses associated with either herself or family and friends, both locally and interstate.

Neither Ms Kazeme nor the recipients of the packages had prescriptions for the items, and they risked using the stolen pharmaceutical items without direction or warnings.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal made a finding of professional misconduct against Ms Kazeme in November 2018 (for which written reasons were published this year) cancelled her registration and disqualified her from reapplying for registration for 24 months. She was also reprimanded.

The tribunal made it clear that Ms Kazeme’s actions were inconsistent with her being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the pharmacy profession.

It referred to the particular level of trust that the community places in pharmacists and found that Ms Kazeme’s actions had breached this trust.

In cancelling Ms Kazeme’s registration and disqualifying her from reapplying for a minimum period of 24 months, the tribunal said it was important to send a message to the profession that it operates within a regulated environment for the paramount purpose of protecting the public.

Pharmacy Board of Australia Chair Brett Simmonds highlighted the significance of the tribunal’s decision.

“The Board welcomes the tribunal’s decision and its emphasis on the importance of the trust that the community places in pharmacists to protect and control access to both prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutical drugs and products,” he said.

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