‘Flagrant disregard’ for the law

Pharmacy owner found guilty of professional misconduct for supplying S8 drugs in breach of conditions

A pharmacist who owned and operated a rural pharmacy in Western Australia between 2003 and 2014 has been censured by the State Administrative Tribunal for breaching conditions on his practice.

Back in 2013, the pharmacist was convicted in court for six offences under the Poisons Act, including failure to maintain a register of drugs of addiction, and failure to ensure that the pharmacy’s drug safe was locked at all times.

He was ultimately fined $10,000 in respect of his convictions.

Following this, the Department of Health twice wrote to the pharmacist advising him that as of May 2013, his authority to manufacture, possess, use, sell or supply Schedule 8 drugs was revoked.

However it was found that the pharmacist had indeed been supplying Schedule 8 drugs at the pharmacy in breach of the conditions – on 131 occasions between 24 May 2013 and 17 April 2014, and on 38 occasions between 26 November 2013 and 17 April 2014.

The pharmacist admitted supplying Schedule 8 drugs during this period but claimed the conditions did not apply as he had challenged the decision by filing an interlocutory application in the Federal Court.

Due to this court challenge he claimed the conditions were therefore “rendered nugatory”, effectively preserving the status quo.

He submitted in a letter to AHPRA that as he was running a rural pharmacy, it was not “in the public interest to impose conditions that block the supply of Schedule 8 medicines”.

The pharmacist also claimed that the real motive behind the imposition of the conditions was to “cause irreparable harm and character assassination on a world scale”.

However the tribunal found that the pharmacist had engaged in professional misconduct by possessing, supplying and selling Schedule 8 drugs despite having his authority revoked, and in breach of conditions imposed on his registration.

“It is difficult to comprehend why [the pharmacist] would act in such a flagrant disregard of the imposition of the Schedule 8 revocation and the conditions other than … his view that the regulatory authorities were using their powers with an ulterior motive, that being to ‘cause irreparable harm’ to [the pharmacist] and to assassinate his character ‘on a world scale’,” stated the tribunal in its recent decision.

“Such allegations we note which have failed to succeed in any of the legal actions initiated by [the pharmacist] in the Federal Court.”

The tribunal called on the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the pharmacist to file and serve written submissions as to orders and penalties.

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