A NSW pharmacist-in-charge must work under conditions after “unsatisfactory conduct” relating to breaches of storage, handling and dispensing of restricted substances
Adam Kennedy, 29, was the pharmacist-in-charge at Kingswood Compounding Pharmacy in April 2014 when the Pharmaceutical Services Unit (PSU) of the NSW Ministry of Health conducted an inspection of the premises.
The inspection revealed numerous breaches of the regulations relating to the storage and record-keeping of pharmaceutical goods, while significant quantities of the anabolic steroid Stanozolol – including six bottles of “Diamond” branded Stanozolol products – were found onsite.
Diamond-branded Stanozolol products are not registered by the TGA and are prohibited for use in Australia, and Stanozolol is a rarely prescribed anabolic steroid known to be abused by some bodybuilders.
Mr Kennedy admitted all but one of the 18 particulars of the complaint lodged by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) – that he had supplied Diamond-branded anabolic steroids to any customers.
He acknowledged that:
- he had failed to adequately label restricted substances;
- his record-keeping practices required improvement;
- his storage of Schedule 8 items was “lax”;
- he had deficiencies in records of “accountable drugs”.
Regarding the Diamond-branded Stanozolol, Mr Kennedy told the PSU officer during the 2014 inspection that he did not know who owned it and suggested it may have belonged to the previous compounding pharmacist.
But shortly after the inspection, Mr Kennedy wrote to the Pharmacy Council saying he recalled a woman had brought it onto the premises after finding it in her son’s bedroom, wanting to know what it was.
He denied supplying the product to anyone, saying he had forgotten about the mother bringing it in during the PSU investigation and had been reminded afterwards by a staff member who no longer works at the pharmacy.
The HCCC argued that Mr Kennedy’s evidence appeared rehearsed; however the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found it was “not implausible” that a concerned parent would bring steroids she had found to a pharmacy for analysis and disposal, and dismissed the allegation.
In regards to a large amount (400g) of Stanozolol powder found in the pharmacy, Mr Kennedy told the PSU inspector that he had been asked to stock it by a doctor whose name he could not recall, who wanted to prescribe it for weight loss purposes.
However during the tribunal proceedings in late 2016 and early 2017, he announced that he now recalled the name of the person who contacted him about compounding Stanozolol was Stephen Dank – the sports scientist who had been at the centre of the Essendon doping scandal.
Mr Kennedy said he only recalled Mr Dank’s name after hearing media reports, and claimed that at the time he was dealing with Mr Dank he thought he was a medical practitioner.
The PSU officer had also found containers filled with capsules of Clenbuterol, which appeared to have been compounded, labelled and prepared in the absence of a valid veterinary prescription.
Mr Kennedy admitted to inappropriately compounding Clenbuterol in circumstances where it is not registered in Australia for human use; no prescription for Clenbuterol had been received by the pharmacy at the time of the compounding, which has a limited shelf life of six months.
At first Mr Kennedy explained that it was for veterinary surgeons for the treatment of horses, and gave the Commission a list of 10 veterinary practices – but enquiries revealed none had required the pharmacy to compound medication containing Clenbuterol.
During the proceedings he said he then recalled he had ordered it following discussions with Mr Dank, and he understood it was for use in one of his weight loss clinics.
Mr Kennedy said he realised he had been foolish and naïve in ordering such a “ridiculous amount” (50g) of Clenbuterol without “legitimate prescriptions to back them up”, but he did not want to lose the business opportunity offered by Mr Dank. He said he had no reason to believe at the time that Mr Dank was not a legitimate practitioner.
The tribunal stated that many would find it difficult to accept that Mr Kennedy forgot it was Mr Dank whom he had been dealing with in relation to the Clenbuterol, since Mr Dank was well known for being involved in the AFL and Rugby League doping scandals in 2012.
They said Mr Kennedy had given an “implausible” and “unsatisfactory” account of his real purposes for compounding the Clenbuterol, leaving the tribunal with only “inexact proofs, indefinite testimony, or indirect inferences”.
Finally, Mr Kennedy was found to have filled a prescription for 50 tablets of the restricted substance Mogadon, even though the prescription appeared to have been altered by hand by a person other than the authorised practitioner by whom it was issued, in an attempt to change its date.
While the tribunal decided Mr Kennedy’s actions amounted to unsatisfactory conduct and professional misconduct, they decided not to suspend or cancel his registration, saying he had taken steps to “remedy the identified shortcomings in his practice”, “demonstrated willingness to address those shortcomings” and had “demonstrated remorse and insight”.
He was reprimanded and ordered not to work as a pharmacist in charge or be a proprietor of any pharmacy, and may not seek a review of this condition for 24 months.
Mr Kennedy has also been banned from possessing, handling, supplying, dispensing, administering, compounding or manufacturing any of the following substances: Stanozolol, Methandrostenolone, Celbuterol, Trilostane, N-acetyl L-cysteine, Clomiphene, Tadalafil, and Dehydroepiandrosterone.
He was also ordered to pay 80% of the HCCC’s costs.