No jail for forging script after overdose death

gavel court legal

A pharmacist who supplied a man who later overdosed with zopiclone and codeine has been sentenced to 10 months’ home detention and 200 hours’ community work.

Terrence Wong, also known as Park Ung Wong, of Birkenhead Pharmacy in Auckland, was suspended by the Pharmacy Council in September 2015 for the offences for which he has now been sentenced. reports that Wong pled guilty to one charge of forgery, three representative charges of creating a criminal nuisance and one charge under the Medicines Act of supplying prescription medication.

The offences, which took place in 2014 and 2015, centred around three customers.

One of the patients, a zopiclone addict who was on a New Zealand-wide blacklist to stop him from obtaining the medicine, presented at the Birkenhead Pharmacy in 2014 with a fake prescription.

Despite calling the doctor named and being advised that the prescription was not legitimate and that the man was the subject of the pharmacy alert to restrict access to the medicine, Wong supplied zopiclone to the man.

He supplied zopiclone to the patient on other occasions, as well as more than 5000 Nurofen tablets (codeine/ibuprofen).

In early 2015, the patient overdosed on zopiclone and codeine and was placed on life support, dying several days later. reports that when he became aware of the death, Wong attempted to alter the fake prescription, forging a doctor’s signature and changing the date.

He continued to sell “excessive” amounts of codeine-containing Nurofen to two female customers on what was referred to at the North Shore District Court as a “no questions asked basis”.

One woman took two packets of the medicine each day and was hospitalised with a life-endangering illness.

Although Crown prosecutor Max Hardy argued for a jail term, Judge Hinton disagreed, saying Wong’s personal circumstances could not be better for home detention.

He said that while supplying the medicines had been a factor in the man’s death, Wong could not be held responsible.

He said that the most significant charge was the forgery of the script after the patient died. This offence carries a jail term of up to seven years.

Wong no longer owns the Birkenhead Pharmacy.

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