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Pharmacist struck off for stealing almost £45k worth of stock from employer

A locum pharmacist has been struck off for stealing almost £45,000 worth of medication and other items from his then employer, classing his actions as “borrowing stock” after setting up an online pharmacy business.

Bilal Nazir, registration number 2078294, stole items with a total value calculated at £44,842 between January and October 2019, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise committee heard at a hearing held across January 6-7 this year. 

Mr Nazir revealed to police that he was “under financial strain” after opening an online pharmacy, classing his actions as “borrowing stock” from his employer, the GPhC heard.

The regulator accepted that Mr Nazir “was of previous good character”, had admitted to his actions when questioned by the police and later in court, and that he had expressed “some remorse”.

But it said that Mr Nazir’s actions could have damaged his employer’s business and “jeopardise[d] access by patients who are in genuine need of these pharmaceutical items”.

 

Caught while placing stock into his car

 

Mr Nazir started working as a locum pharmacist at his employer’s pharmacy – which the committee referred to as “Mr 1’s Pharmacy” – in 2017.

In 2018, the employer, referred to as Mr 1, started to notice “discrepancies between cash flow and deliveries” at times where Mr Nazir was working at the pharmacy.

On 12 October 2019, Mr 1 watched via a live feed as Mr Nazir put boxes of stock, which were later valued at a total of around £2,300, into his car, the GPhC heard.

Mr Nazir pleaded guilty to one offence of theft at magistrates’ court in February 2021, after which time he was referred to Crown Court in March of that year for sentencing. He expressed remorse for his actions, revealing that he had opened his own business and was in debt, the regulator heard.

He proposed to pay back the money he had stolen, while referring to “wider personal circumstances… including family matters”.

In their sentencing, the judge noted that among the drugs stolen by Mr Nazir were prescription-only medicines and other items that required refrigeration such as insulin and eye drops for glaucoma, the regulator heard.

While giving Mr Nazir credit for his guilty plea, the judge noted that the offence was “longstanding, sophisticated and serious”, the committee heard.

He was therefore sentenced to imprisonment for 18 months, although he has since been released on license, and ordered to pay compensation of £44,842 to Mr 1, plus a victim surcharge of £140, the GPhC heard.

At the time of Mr Nazir’s fitness-to-practise hearing, the committee heard that Mr Nazir had repaid £15,000, which is the amount he was due to pay back by May 2021.

 

“Darkest time” for Mr Nazir

 

In an email to the GPhC in December last year, Mr Nazir wrote that “the time since my arrest and preceding [sic] it has been the darkest time for me personally, professionally and psychologically”, the regulator heard.

Mr Nazir – who was not present nor represented at the fitness-to-practise hearing – was “ashamed” of his actions and aware of the impact they had had on his family, he wrote.

The GPhC acknowledged that Mr Nazir had accepted his actions “were wrong, shameful, and embarrassing”.

But it said that the committee had not been “provided with any evidence that the registrant had reflected on the impact his actions would have on the reputation of the profession of pharmacy, both with fellow professionals and with the public”.

Furthermore, as some of the stolen items required refrigeration, his actions “risked endangering the health and well-being of the people who would eventually be given such medication”, the regulator added.

The committee concluded that the “registrant’s integrity [could not] be relied on” as of the hearing in January, and that “no lesser sanction than removal would meet the public interest, maintain public confidence in the profession and maintain the standards of the profession”.

It decided to remove Mr Nazir from the register.

A GPhC spokesperson confirmed to C+D today that Mr Nazir did not appeal the decision.

 

Read the full determination here

 

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