Suspended after self-dispensing

A pharmacist has been reprimanded and her registration suspended after she self-dispensed modafinil and tramadol from her workplace without a valid script

The Pharmacy Board has issued a statement about Michelle Fall, who admitted that she had self-dispensed a number of S4 medicines from her workplace with no valid prescription.

She also admitted that she did not pay for some of the medicines, and that she had made false and misleading entries in her workplace’s electronics record management system.

Ms Fall was employed at a Western Australian hospital pharmacy when the conduct took place.

The parties agreed on relevant facts, including that on 1 August 2018, 20 August 2018 and 5 October 2018, the pharmacist self-dispensed 60 modafinil 100mg tablets to herself while working at the hospital’s pharmacy department.

This totalled 180 modafinil tablets.

She did not have a valid script, though she knew modafinil was S4, and recorded the dispensing as a “staff purchase” in the electronic dispensing system.

On 31 August 2018, she self-dispensed another 60 modafinil tablets to herself, which she kept for her own personal use.

However she had recorded, in the electronic dispensing system, that they were dispensed to a deceased male, prescribed by a medical practitioner, and dispensed by a pharmacy technician with the initials “LR”.

She knew that this was false and misleading, and for the purpose of concealing that she had dispensed the tablets to herself without a valid script. She also did not pay for the modafinil.

On 13 September 2018, she took a packet of 60 modafinil 100mg tablets from a shelf in the pharmacy department, which again, she did not pay for and did not have a script for. No record was made of this.

On six occasions between 14 August 2018 and 12 October 2018, she dispensed a total of 420 tramadol capsules and tablets of varying strengths to herself, while working at the hospital pharmacy.

Again, she kept the tramadol for her own personal use, did not have a valid script – and knew tramadol was S4 and required one – and recorded in the electronic dispensing system that the tramadol had been prescribed to her by a medical practitioner when no such prescription existed.

The State Administrative Tribunal heard that Ms Fall had previously been prescribed the medicines to treat a chronic condition, though she had no valid scripts at the time of the self-dispensing in question.

It heard that she had expressed regret and remorse for her conduct, and shown significant insight into it, engaging with a mentor and keeping a journal to reflect on her conduct and practice as a pharmacist.

In reaching agreement with the Pharmacy Board, she avoided the need for a hearing.

The Tribunal ordered that the practitioner had behaved in a way which constituted professional misconduct, and reprimanded her.

Her registration was suspended for two months, and conditions requiring the practitioner to undertake education were imposed on her registration at the conclusion of the period of suspension, with a review period of six months.

The education was required to include a Board approved program on appropriate dispensing, ethical decision making and record keeping.

She was also ordered to pay a contribution towards the Board’s costs of the proceedings.

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  1. Anthony Zehetner

    Did she have narcolepsy? (Not that it makes it any less illegal). Seems that no one does these illicit activities for statins or antihypertensives…

    • Michelle Fall

      Hi Anthony,

      The modafanil was initially prescribed (non-PBS) by my doctor to treat severe fatigue secondary to subcut methotrexate for autoimmune arthritis.

      This article fails to mention that my doctor was aware that I was taking both medications during the period in question, and of the doses I was taking. I failed to obtain repeat prescriptions. Not that this makes my behaviour any less illegal, as you say.

      Self-dispensing of S4s without a valid prescription is something I have seen countless times over the course of my career. I just hope that others learn from my mistakes.

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