Pharmacist receives suspended prison term for opioid theft

A hospital pharmacist has been sentenced after stealing and using thousands of dollars’ worth of opioids following his young daughter’s death

Matthew Foster, 38, was sentenced in the Fremantle Magistrate’s Court on Monday for stealing drugs including hydromorphone from a safe at his workplace between December 2014 and February this year, PerthNow reports.

Foster, who was a highly regarded senior pharmacist at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, had allegedly used fake names and signatures to access the drugs.

Defence counsel David Manera said his client turned to the heavy-duty prescription medication to cope with his grief after his 10-year-old daughter died of an unknown degenerative neurological disease in February 2014.

Manera said Foster blamed himself for her death.

“There was obviously extreme grief and in Mr Foster’s case, also guilt,” he said.

Foster pleaded guilty to 46 counts of possessing a prohibited drug and 46 counts of stealing as a servant.

Magistrate Elizabeth Langdon sentenced him a 12-month prison term, suspended for 12 months.

He was also placed on an 18-month community-based order.

Foster has already paid back $2617 to Western Australia’s South Metropolitan Health Service to cover the cost of the stolen drugs, the court was told.

According to the AHPRA website, Foster’s registration is also subject to conditions effective 28 October 2016.

These include that he “must not possess, supply, administer, handle, dispense, access or check (hereafter referred to as access) any medicine or poison listed in Schedule(s) 8 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (the SUSMP) as amended from time to time”.

He also “must not be the only pharmacist on site at any time”.

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