Pharmacist directly imported hormone and ED treatments

A formerly registered pharmacist has been reprimanded after he bypassed the Australian Therapeutic Goods Regulatory Framework to import drugs not registered on the ARTG

The Pharmacy Board has issued a statement regarding David Brewster, who it referred to the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia over the matter.

The Tribunal found that Mr Brewster had engaged in professional misconduct.

In August 2019, it found that while registered as a pharmacist, he had imported medicines for supply that he did not purchase from their respective Registered Sponsors; and which were not registered for use in Australia on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

At the time these imports took place, Mr Brewster was the proprietor and licence holder of his pharmacy in WA.

The Tribunal heard that on 1 October 2014, his registration as a pharmacist was suspended due to a number of reasons including the direct importation of S4s not contained on the ARTG.

It heard that between May 2013 and December 2014, the pharmacist had directly imported Melatonin and Bio-Melatonin directly from Alium Medical Limited in the UK.

On two occasions, in October and December 2014, this occurred while the pharmacist’s registration was suspended, and he “knew or ought reasonably to have known that the purchase and importation of the Melatonin and Bio-Melatonin was not appropriate practice for a pharmacist”.

It also heard that the pharmacist had supplied several emergency medication kits to the Oral Health Care Centre of Western Australia.

These kits contained 14 EpiPens (Adult) and 17 EpiPen Junior. None of these were Australian medications, nor were they listed on the ARTG.

The Tribunal heard that on five of the seven occasions these were imported, the pharmacist’s registration was suspended, yet he imported them into Australia, again purchasing from Alium, with the purpose of dispensing them.

Between May 2013 and December 2014 he also imported medicines including Gutron 5mg x 50 tablets; Cyclogest 400mg pessaries x 15 and 200mg pessaries x 15; Cialis 20mg x 4; and Crinone 8% gel from Alium, again bypassing the regulatory framework.

The Tribunal listed 11 occasions on which this took place – two on 1 October 2019, for Cyclogest, and two afterwards, for Gutron and Crinone.

At this time, Cialis and Crinone were only registered for use if purchased from the Australian registered sponsor, Eli Lilly and Merch Serono Australia respectively.

The pharmacist admitted that he acted in breach of both the PSA’s and the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s Codes of Ethics.

The Tribunal heard that mitigating factors included the fact that the pharmacist admitted the allegations of professional misconduct early on, reaching agreement as to what penalty should be imposed.

It noted that the pharmacist “deeply regrets” the conduct and was remorseful, remained committed to his profession and had continued to undertake CPD.

Mr Brewster was not registered at the time of the tribunal’s decision, with his registration having earlier been cancelled as a result of separate disciplinary proceedings. 

The tribunal acknowledged that the disqualification period for this admitted conduct would ordinarily be 12 to 18 months.

However, due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the matter and that the conduct had been considered by the Tribunal in separate 2017 proceedings when deciding not to reinstate Mr Brewster to the register, Mr Brewster was disqualified from applying for registration as a pharmacist for a period ending 30 September 2019.

Mr Brewster was reprimanded and ordered to pay $5,000 towards the Board’s costs of the proceedings.

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