Struck off for prescribing to self and partner

legal medical tribunal doctor overprescribing

A former doctor and pharmacist has been disqualified from practising medicine for three years after he prescribed drugs including Valium and Duromine for his partner, a male sex worker

The practitioner had been a registered pharmacist since 1968 and medical practitioner since 1973, but he surrendered his medical practitioner registration in February 2016 and allowed his pharmacy registration to lapse in January 2016.

The practitioner had predominantly worked in management roles for pharmaceutical companies and companies organising clinical trials.

In 2006, the practitioner entered into a same sex relationship with a sex worker who was 37 years his junior, initially for payment, but the two became partners and at times lived together.

The younger man had come from a violent home and began to use illicit drugs including methamphetamine and gamma hydroxybutyrate at age 18; he abused alcohol and had been diagnosed with HIV at age 20. He had been diagnosed with several mental health conditions including depression, bipolar and possibly schizophrenia, the Tribunal noted.

The doctor-pharmacist began to provide prescriptions for his then partner, which were inappropriate given he had an ongoing personal and sexual relationship with the man.

These included Risperidone 1mg; Reductil 10mg and Duromine (despite the personal relationship and his limited experience in addiction medicine); lithium carbonate; Valium; Tramal; Lexapro; and Stilnox.

He also prescribed Xanax in a quantity exceeding recognised clinical guidelines and without an appropriate therapeutic purpose.

While he admitted some of the particulars of the complaint, he did not admit others and argued that several of the scripts allegedly written by him were forgeries.

The practitioner also prescribed Stilnox for himself without an appropriate therapeutic purpose and in a quantity in excess of recognised therapeutic standards, as well as zopiclone for himself in excess of the standards and inappropriately with zolpidem.

He self-prescribed Aurorix and Tramal, despite the inappropriate combination, as well as diazepam; and modafinil, inappropriately with zolpidem and zopiclone and which should not have been prescribed without the advice or referral to a sleep physician or psychiatrist.

The practitioner did not give evidence and his former partner left the witness box, never to return, before his cross-examination could be completed.

The Tribunal said it was “entitled to draw inferences” from the practitioner’s failure to attend the hearing and from his “silence” when he did attend, on the second day, particularly regarding the prescriptions to his former partner and to himself.

“Apart from a bare assertion of possible forgery of prescriptions in his Further Amended Reply and in his unsworn responses to the applicant’s enquiries, the respondent has called no evidence to suggest that the pharmaceutical records may be in any way inaccurate,” it said.

The Tribunal did not accept that the scripts given to the practitioner’s partner were forgeries. It found the practitioner guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct, and said the evidence supported the Health Care Complaints Commission’s complaints against the man.

The Tribunal stated that should the practitioner still have been registered as a medical practitioner, it would have cancelled his registration. It disqualified him from being registered as a medical practitioner in the medical profession for three years.

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