Pharmacist allegedly went to work drunk

tribunal hearing legal case

A pharmacist’s registration has been suspended after he allegedly left methadone for his patients in an alleyway or a bookie’s shop

An unnamed superintendent pharmacist has told an Irish court that he “should not be practicing as a pharmacist for the time being” as he has become dependent on substances including alcohol and medication.

The pharmacist, whose name has been withheld, faced the Irish High Court this week after the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland sought an order to suspend him from the register.

On 3 September 2020, concerns about the pharmacist were conveyed to the Society, wrote Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, in what he noted was what appeared to be the first written judgement on the suspension of pharmacists under Section 45 of the Pharmacy Act 2007.

On 11 September the Society, by remote meeting, gave consideration to an undertaking the pharmacist had made not to practise; instead they elected to seek a court order preventing him from doing so.

Justice Humphreys listed a number of reasons for this decision, including an allegation that the man had attended his workplace while drunk, and another that he had sought to conceal the taking of medication by asking staff to leave the pharmacy.

There was also an allegation that “methadone was left for patients in an alleyway or a bookie’s shop,” the judge noted.

There were further allegations that the pharmacist had dispensed the wrong product and that there was evidence of denial when he was confronted with his wrongdoing.

The pharmacist had provided an affidavit to the Court in which he conceded that “I have developed significant issues arising from mental health and as a consequence, have now developed an addiction to alcohol and medication”.

The judge noted that the practitioner had voluntarily stopped work as the superintendent pharmacist at the store where he had been employed, and said he had not worked there since 4 September 2020.

He no longer holds keys or passwords and has resigned as a director of the company operating the pharmacy.

The pharmacist’s counsel contended that a suspension would be “draconian,” but Justice Humphreys responded that “the order isn’t in fact draconian if the practitioner isn’t going to be practicing anyway”.

The legal representative said that as the case concerned a health issue, it was preferable to “respond to the respondent’s engagement”.

The judge replied that, “Without diminishing the need to encourage the respondent’s engagement,I don’t accept that argument as necessarily constituting a compellingreason not to suspend. On the contrary, it may be more likely to be in the respondent’s long term interest to have to face up the consequences.

Justice Humphreys found that the alleged behaviour “clearly” met the threshold at which the practitioner posed a risk to the health and safety of the public.

The pharmacist’s registration was suspended.

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