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Diazepam dealers: Pharmacists sentenced for ‘industrial’ illegal supply

Mandip Sidhu and Nabeil Nasr illegally supplied more than 55 million doses of controlled drugs, the MHRA has revealed.

Two pharmacists have been sentenced for the “industrial scale” illegal supply of class C controlled drugs (CDs), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced yesterday (May 16).

Mandip Sidhu of Littleover, Derby, and Nabeil Nasr of Cheadle, Greater Manchester, were found to have illegally supplied more than 55 million doses of class C CDs, including over 47m doses of diazepam, between May 2013 and June 2017, it said.

Both were registered pharmacists at the time of the offending, it added.

Read more: ‘Vigilant’ locum pharmacist uncovers 20,000-pill tramadol prescription fraud

Sidhu, 47, was the director of Derby-based Pharmaceutical Health Limited (PHL) while Nasr, 42, owned “several pharmacies” in northwest England, according to the MHRA. 

It revealed that PHL bought 4.27m tablets in August 2014 and 4.5m tablets in March 2015 but had not “legally dispensed” any prescribed medicines since July 2013.

The MHRA added “for perspective” that a total of “around five million” tablets of diazepam were legally dispensed in England during 2014 – figures “dwarfed by the quantities of drugs passing through the hands of Sidhu and Nasr”.

Read more: ‘Manipulated’ pharmacist suspended for dispensing fraudulent fentanyl scripts

Neither Sidhu nor Nasr possessed a Home Office Controlled Drug Licence (HOCDL), it said.

Nasr pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying diazepam and zopiclone and two counts of wholesale dealing without a licence, while Sidhu pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying diazepam, zolpidem and zopiclone, it added.

 

Attempted deception

 

The watchdog revealed that Sidhu tried to dupe an MHRA inspector with a forged invoice claiming that the CDs had been “sold to a company outside the European Economic Area”.

For this attempted deception, she pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery, it said.

Sidhu and Nasr were both yesterday sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for their crimes at the Southwark Crown Court, suspended for two years, it added.

Read more: Vigilant pharmacist helps nab fraudster who committed £40k script scam

Sidhu also received an additional suspended sentence of four months’ imprisonment to run concurrently, while both of their suspended sentences are conditional on completing 200 hours of community service, according to the MHRA.

MHRA deputy director of criminal enforcement Andy Morling paid tribute to the “exceptional determination, skill and professionalism” shown by the authority’s Criminal Enforcement Unit in its investigation.

Morling said that the “successful prosecution” was a show of the MHRA’s “full range of powers and tools”.

 

Fraud-fighting pharmacists

 

In sharp contrast, C+D exclusively revealed the story of Noman Ahmed earlier this month, a Kent locum pharmacist who helped to uncover a years-long prescription fraud involving over 20,000 tramadol tablets after he noticed an “unusual” script.

Read more: Fake online pharmacist found with 50,000 pills jailed for six years

Similarly, in July last year, C+D reported on a vigilant pharmacist who helped to nab another fraudster who was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he used faked prescriptions to acquire around £40,000-worth of drugs.

Also in July, a C+D investigation revealed that no fraud reports lodged against community pharmacy contractors had been converted into prosecutions by the NHS fraud office in over two years.

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