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Two pharmacists jailed for trafficking insomnia pills worth £600k

Two pharmacists have been jailed for illegally selling zolpidem pills worth an estimated black-market value of £600,000, the MHRA has announced.

Dean Dookhan (2059808), of Sherwood Road, Birmingham, and Narvinder Nandra (2044250), of Primsland Close, Solihull, were handed 27- and 30-month prison sentences respectively at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday (July 12), following a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) investigation.

According to the MHRA, the duo purchased “hundreds of thousands of doses” of zolpidem from wholesalers during 2015 and 2016. However, records show that only a “small percentage” had been dispensed against a prescription.

“This left almost 600,000 pills unaccounted for,” the MHRA said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Dookhan later admitted diverting the medicines to another pharmacy, while Mr Nandra claimed that they were exported to Trinidad, a country in the Caribbean, according to the MHRA.

Zolpidem, a sleeping pill, could be subject to potential misuse and might cause dependence if it is taken for longer than four weeks, according to the NHS.

According to the Birmingham Mail, handing down the sentences judge Francis Laird told the pair: “You both played a leading role and are equally culpable in the offences. You both grossly abused your position as pharmacists and the business premises [where] you worked to carry out the offences.”

Grant Powell, the MHRA enforcement officer who lead the case, said: “Anyone who sells medicines illegally is not only breaking the law but clearly shows a total disregard for the health and welfare of anyone who may purchase them.

“Prescription only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision. Their sale outside the legal supply route could lead to vulnerable people being exploited.”

Both Mr Nandra, 48, and Mr Dookhan, 40, were suspended from the GPhC register in November 2019.

The GPhC declined to comment while the cases are ongoing, but C+D understands that a date for their fitness to practise hearing has yet to be scheduled.

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