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GPhC strikes off pharmacist for supplying zolpidem on black market

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has decided to remove a pharmacist from the register after he was jailed last year for illegally supplying controlled sleeping pills outside of the supply chain.

Dean Zainool Dookhan, registration number 2059808, acted with another pharmacist to supply a “large quantity” of zolpidem to a third party in Trinidad who was not a legitimate medicines wholesaler, the GPhC's fitness-to-practise committee heard at a hearing held last month (24-25 May).

He has until June 24 to appeal the GPhC's decision to remove him from the register. Meanwhile, the regulator set out an interim measure of suspension that took effect “immediately” following the hearing.

Mr Dookhan was given a 27-month prison sentence on July 12, 2021 at Birmingham Crown Court for illegally supplying class C drugs and possessing a medicinal product for the purpose of wholesaling without a license, the GPhC heard.


Read more: Two pharmacists jailed for trafficking insomnia pills worth £600k


He was released on licence on April 14, an arrangement that will remain in place until October 2023, and is currently subject to home curfew.

The committee heard that Mr Dookhan “supplied controlled drugs for personal financial gain” while working as pharmacy manager at Northbrook Pharmacy in Shirley, Birmingham and as superintendent pharmacist at online pharmacy I-Dispense Ltd.

The regulator acknowledged that Mr Dookhan “previously had an unblemished career” and that “he admitted the allegation at the outset” of his hearing.

But it stressed that he carried out the offence “over a significant period”. “Had the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) not investigated the registrant’s actions, the offending behaviour would probably have continued,” it remarked.

C+D has approached Mr Dookhan's legal representative for comment.


Shipping zolpidem to Trinidad


Between September 1, 2015 and May 13, 2016, Mr Dookhan acted together with another pharmacist – referred to as ‘Pharmacist Y’ throughout the hearing – to order and then sell a “large quantity” of zolpidem on a wholesale basis to a person in Trinidad, according to a transcript of the judge’s sentencing remarks last year.

Controlled drugs like zolpidem can only be supplied lawfully on prescription and distributed on a wholesale basis with a license from the MHRA, the judge added.

During the period of the offence, Mr Dookhan ordered the drugs using Northbrook Pharmacy, which were then transferred to the pharmacy Pharmacist Y worked at to be packed, arranged, and exported to Trinidad, the judge said.

More than 20,000 packets of the drugs were exported in total, containing more than 500,000 tablets, they said.


Read more: Pharmacist struck off after £530k fraud spree to cover gambling debts


Mr Dookhan told the GPhC committee that he was under pressure at the time of his offending because he had been asked “manage the [pharmacy] and turn it round”. He was also working “excessive hours” and acknowledged that “his efforts were detrimental to his health and decision-making”.

Mr Dookhan was and continues to be the sole breadwinner for his family and at the time of the offence he was also experiencing some health issues, he told the committee.

The committee believes that Mr Dookhan would still be able to earn a living, even if not practicing as a pharmacist, because “he has been working within a pharmacy environment” and “is held in high regard for his business acumen by his employer”, it said.

The GPhC acknowledged that Mr Dookhan “acquitted himself well while in prison” and has also completed continuing professional development training “relevant to remediation” – focusing on the addiction to controlled drugs.

He expressed “genuine remorse” for his actions, the committee added.

However, “his actions were abhorrent and would be seen as such by informed members of the public and his profession”, the committee said.

The GPhC decided to remove Mr Dookhan from the register. 

Read the full determination here

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