A pharmacy manager has been forbidden to apply for re-registration for 18 months, and temporarily prohibited from working in any environment where he could access S8 or addictive drugs
Sydney pharmacist Ethan Le, who was convicted in 2015 of a number of offences including supplying drugs such as Clonazepam, testosterone and morphine contrary to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act, has landed himself in hot water for failing to notify the Pharmacy Board of the conviction.
In that year the NSW Police Drug Squad was investigating the supply of prohibited drugs by one Trent Nguyen, and discovered that Mr Nguyen was sourcing the prescription drugs from a pharmacy in Sydney’s inner west, where Mr Le was employed as pharmacy manager.
Police officers observed Mr Nguyen going to the pharmacy, while Mr Le brought out a cardboard box which he placed on the suspect’s car passenger seat.
Mr Le went back to the pharmacy after which he was approached by police. He told them that Mr Nguyen had not given him any money in exchange for the box, but that this would be “fixed up” in the future.
He did, however, take a black leather brief case from the pharmacy and hand police $8,500 which he said was payment for a previous deal, the Tribunal heard.
The police also found two prescription pads and two boxes of Sustanon 250 in the briefcase.
They asked the pharmacist about the pads and was told, “those guys gave them to me to hold onto”.
The cardboard box handed over by the pharmacist was found to contain 12,100 tablets of Paxam 2, 400 tablets of APO-Diazepam, 30 pre-filled syringes of Primoteston Depot, 280 MS Contin tablets, 50 Halcion tablets and 56 Lexapro tablets.
Mr Le later told police that he would have charged Mr Nguyen $10,000 for the drugs found in the cardboard box.
He said that the supply arrangement had been going on for several years, with the pharmacy manager supplying Mr Nguyen every couple of weeks.
He said he ordered the drugs through the pharmacy’s wholesaler, submitting the order along with genuine orders.
Mr Le pleaded guilty to charges pertaining to supplying Mr Nguyen with the drugs and was convicted on a number of counts including the supply of morphine and Clonazepam, as well as dealing with the $8,500, which was suspected of being the proceeds of crime.
He was sentenced to several prison terms which were to be served by way of intensive correction orders in the community.
But the pharmacist failed to notify the Pharmacy Board that he had been charged with offences punishable by imprisonment within seven days of being charged, a move that brought him before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Regarding this failure to notify the Board, Mr Le said: “I am very embarrassed for this oversight after reeling from the life changing arrest and later conviction. To this day I am still surprised and annoyed that such a simple matter had escaped my attention.”
The pharmacist, who is currently unregistered, disputed before the Tribunal that he was rendered unfit to practice the profession of pharmacy, citing earlier cases in which pharmacists convicted of crimes were then able to practice after a period of suspension or disqualification.
Mr Le argued that he had excellent prospects of rehabilitation and had committed himself to “finding out what happened in my decision making process given the circumstances – the breakdown of my marriage, the declining business under my management and losing grip of my ‘self’”.
The pharmacist said that at the time of the offences he had been operating under “severe stress” including from working long days and coming home to “nagging” as well as having to cook and wash up, and that under the Code of Conduct he should have reported this mental state, but “did not recognise that he had a problem until it was too late”.
He said he had made steps towards personal development including through public speaking.
The pharmacist submitted to the Tribunal that he did wish to regain his registration in the future, but in the immediate term he was more interested in mentoring aspiring public speakers.
The Tribunal ordered that Mr Le is not entitled to apply for re-registration for 18 months.
It also instated a Prohibition Order against him, under which he cannot work in any environment where he would have access to S8 or addictive drugs until his registration as a pharmacist is reinstated.
The Tribunal also recommended that he develop a CPD plan during this time, which he should provide to the Pharmacy Board if he seeks to regain registration, find a mentor, familiarise himself with the Board’s regulations and join a professional organisation to help him with his professional development.