A pharmacist has been suspended until 2019 after he was convicted of two counts of trafficking dextromethorphan, claiming “long hours” and “lack of judgement” as contributing factors.
The Pharmacy Board referred allegations concerning Ali Kozanoglu to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) earlier this year, after he was convicted in March 2015 of the offences.
In 2011 police interviewed Kozanoglu about allegations of importation and trafficking concerning 400kg of dextromethorphan, the tribunal noted. Until then, he had enjoyed respect from the profession and his community.
Since the day after the police interview he has not worked as a pharmacist, and the compounding pharmacy practice, which he ran with his brother and other non-pharmacists, was sold. His registration as a pharmacist was refused renewal by AHPRA earlier this year.
In March 2015, Kozanoglu was found guilty by a jury and convicted of two counts of trafficking a drug of dependence, namely dextromethorphan under s 71AC of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act 1981 (Vic).
The first count concerned his conduct between 1 June and 13 August 2010 and the second concerned his conduct between 30 January and 23 June 2011.
“While accepting the jury’s decision leading to his conviction and sentencing by the County Court of Victoria, he attributed his mistakes in part to long hours in the business and the lack of judgement as to the separation between work and the other parts of his life,” VCAT noted.
He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, all but nine months suspended provided he be of good behaviour for three years.
“In his sentencing remarks, Meredith J described Mr Kozanoglu as being involved in the moving of approximately 375kg of ‘Methorphan’ along the path from source to consumer in a commercial context,” the tribunal noted.
“This related to production and sale of ecstasy like tablets.”
Kozanoglu was not involved in production or sale of the tablets, the County Court found at the time, but he did use the pharmacy business to mask criminal conduct and offending, “which involved a level of sophistication planning and persistence”.
VCAT found that had Kozanoglu still been a registered pharmacist at the time, it would have cancelled his registration and agreed with the Pharmacy Board’s suggestion of a three-year cancellation.
“To say his conduct, as found by a jury, leading to conviction, was substantially below the expected standard is an understatement,” the tribunal noted.
“The fundamental obligation of a pharmacist is to ensure the health and wellbeing of their patient(s). This is achieved by providing appropriate high-quality treatment including appropriate provision of medicine(s), as well as safeguarding people from inappropriate treatment and medication use.
“Mr Kozanoglu betrayed that obligation.”