Fourth UK pharmacist struck off after BBC sting

A UK pharmacist has been struck off the register following a BBC investigation where pharmacists sold drugs including diazepam, temazepam and Viagra without a prescription.

Murtaza Noorali Mohamedali Gulamhusein was the owner of the Curie Chemist in London at the time of the investigation.

BBC reporters visited several pharmacies for the Inside Out program, and were sold a range of drugs at nine; they were acting on specific intelligence about the pharmacies.

At Gulamhusein’s General Pharmaceutical Council hearing this month, the allegations against him were described as supplying Diazepam 5mg, Viagra 100mg and Temazempam 20mg without prescription.

The BBC sent an Arabic-speaking undercover operative to buy prescription-only medicines from the pharmacy using cash. These encounters were recorded.

The operative did not speak English fluently and so Gulamhusein asked a pharmacy student who was fluent in Arabic to speak with the man in that language. The word “Viagra” was mentioned by the operative in English.

The student sold 28 tablets of diazepam 5mg and four tablets of Viagra 100mg without a prescription to the BBC’s operative. Gulamhusein was present in the pharmacy throughout the transaction, though on the phone for part of the time and out of view in the dispensary for part of the time.

The GPhC rejected Gulamhusein’s submission that he was unaware of the transaction.

“The Committee is satisfied on 11 September 2012 a supply of a packet of on 28 tablets of Diazepam, 5mg, and a packet of Viagra, 100mg were supplied from the pharmacy,” it found. “The transaction was physically conducted by [the student] Mr Mahmoud but the Committee is satisfied that it was conducted under the direction of Mr Gulamhusein and that he accordingly caused the sale to be made.

“The Committee finds in relation to those supplies, they were made otherwise in accordance with a prescription and were accordingly unlawful. Mr Gulamhusein knew that the supplies had been made and caused the supplies knowing that they were unlawful.”

On the 27th of September the operative returned and was recognised by another pharmacist; Gulamhusein was told the operative wanted Viagra, after which the conversation turned to the supply of Temazepam. The conversation recorded related to the price of these items; prescriptions were not discussed.

The recordings appeared to show that Gulamhusein told the operative he could supply the medicines after his colleague had left the premises, 10 minutes later. The operative returned and when the second pharmacist left the sale was made.

“To act in such a way, which is contrary to the core requirements of a pharmacist detailed above, clearly brings the profession into disrepute and, as outlined above, involves a breach of fundamental principles,” said the GPhC.

Gulamhusein was the fourth pharmacist to be struck off following the BBC investigation.

During the investigation itself, one of the other pharmacists involved advised the BBC researcher to take whatever dose of a morphine product they wanted.

After seeing the BBC footage, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham commented, “People will be shocked to see pharmacists acting like small time drug pushers.”

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