A pharmacist has been struck off the professional register for selling drugs including Viagra and diazepam without a prescription and making a false entry in her pharmacy's communications book.
Rafif Sarheed, registration number 2078284, is the second pharmacist to be removed from the register as a result of a BBC exposé on illegal medicine sales, which aired in December 2012.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard testimonials describing Ms Sarheed as an "honest and trustworthy person". It acknowledged that she was working in an environment where the unlawful supply of medicines was "prevalent": earlier this month the pharmacy's superintendent Hussain Jamal Rasool, registration number 2068258, became the first pharmacist to be struck off the register as a result of the BBC Inside out investigation.
But the GPhC stressed that Ms Sarheed's attempts to deceive investigating bodies into believing Mr Rasool had instructed her to provide the medicines without a prescription showed a "lack of full insight".
The GPhC saw undercover footage filmed in September 2012 at Al Farabi Pharmacy in London, where Ms Sarheed was the responsible pharmacist. It showed an undercover BBC reporter requesting amoxicillin, saying that his neck hurt and his throat felt itchy. The reporter suggested a 500mg dose, rather than 250mg, and Ms Sarheed sold the reporter the medicine.
The whole incident took "about 39 seconds" during which time Ms Sarheed did not ask for the reporter's name, whether he had a prescription or what dose he had been prescribed, the GPhC heard at a fitness-to-practise hearing on September 16.
Less than two hours later, the reporter returned and asked a counter assistant for "the most powerful" dose of Viagra. The assistant sold him 100mg tablets supervised by Ms Sarheed and the reporter then asked for Valium. Ms Sarheed told him the pharmacy did not have Valium and instead sold him 10mg diazepam tablets, which she told him would have "the same effect", the GPhC heard.
Ms Sarheed told the GPhC that Mr Rasool had told her over the phone that a patient would come in requesting the three prescription-only medicines and Mr Rasool would bring in the prescriptions later in the day.
An "extrodinary coincidence"
But the GPhC rejected her claims and said it would have been an "extraordinary coincidence" if the undercover reporter had happened to ask for the same three medicines that Mr Rasool had described over the phone. It also noted that in previous evidence to the GPhC Ms Sarheed had only referred specifically to diazepam being mentioned by Mr Rasool during the telephone call.
In April 2013, when Ms Sarheed was under investigation for the sales, she claimed in a statement that she had reassured herself that the reporter's prescription had been processed because she had seen a tick in the pharmacy's communications book against an entry that she made on the day of the sales, the GPhC heard.
But CCTV footage from later that month showed Ms Sarheed writing in the pharmacy's communications book, and she admitted that the footage showed her making a false entry with the intention of "deceiving a future reader into believing that the entry was made" on the day of the sales.
Working under pressure
The GPhC noted that Ms Sarheed had an "otherwise unblemished record" and it had received testimonial evidence of her "good character". It acknowledged that the practices at the Al Farabi pharmacy were "part and parcel" of the registrant's behaviour, and recognised the "pressures" she was under. The fact that Ms Sarheed decided to stop working as a locum at the pharmacy "well before" the BBC programme was broadcast stood in her favour, the GPhC said.
However, it concluded that Ms Sarheed's remorse was "highly coloured by her actions" and accused her of "bringing the profession into disrepute" by making a "premeditated" false entry in the communications book. There was nothing in the undercover footage to suggest that Ms Sarheed had been reluctant to supply the medicines without a prescription and the ease with which the reporter obtained them was "shocking", the GPhC said. The regulator ruled to strike her off the register.
Two pharmacists were suspended in July for their involvement in the BBC scandal.
Read the GPhC's full determination here.