Two month suspension over ice pipes

Another pharmacist has been found to have engaged in professional misconduct after importing ice pipes into WA

The Pharmacy Board has published details about the case of Cathy Nguyen, who was convicted of unlawfully importing the pipes into the country in 2016.

Ms Nguyen is currently not registered as a pharmacist, her registration having lapsed on 1 January 2018.

On 15 September 2016, Ms Nguyen plead guilty to two offences under the Customs Act 1901 (Cth).

She was convicted of importing 100 ice pipes – a prohibited import – into the country without permission, and of aiding or abetting the importation of a further 50 pipes.

The Magistrates Court of Western Australia fined Ms Nguyen $7,500 for the first offence and $2,500 for the second offence.

The Pharmacy Board said that it had formed a reasonable belief that Ns Nguyen’s conduct constituted professional misconduct, and referred the case to the State Administrative Tribunal.

The Board and Ms Nguyen were able to agree to the terms on which the matter could be settled.

Ms Nguyen admitted that her behaviour had constituted professional misconduct and the Tribunal was satisfied that proper cause existed for disciplinary action against her.

It noted that she had failed to comply with the Code of Conduct for Pharmacists in that she had failed to act in accordance with the law; she had not complied with the Code’s requirement that she protect and promote the health of individuals and the community; and that she had failed to display a standard of behaviour that warranted the trust and respect of the community.

As a result she was reprimanded and disqualified from re-applying for registration as a pharmacist for two months.

Ms Nguyen was also ordered to pay a contribution of $500 towards the Board’s costs of the tribunal proceedings.

The Tribunal orders record that Ms Nguyen had no prior disciplinary or criminal history, had demonstrated insight into and remorse for her conduct, and that the conduct occurred outside the practice of her profession as a pharmacist.

It also noted that she had not made any financial gain from her conduct, and that at the time she made the decision to import the pipes, she was unaware that it was illegal to do so.

Ms Nguyen is the second WA pharmacist in recent years to face consequences for illegally importing ice pipes into Australia.

In June 2019, the Pharmacy Board also published details about the case of Hoang-Nam Nguyen, who in September 2015 pleaded guilty to charges relating to importing more than 2,000 ice pipes into Australia.

Court documents pertaining to Ms Nguyen do not state what if any relationship exists between the two pharmacists.

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