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Fourth pharmacist struck off in wake of BBC exposé

The GPhC accepted Murtaza Gulamhusein, 2029954, deeply regretted "any oversight of his duties"

Murtaza Noorali Mohamedali Gulamhusein, registration number 2029954, was filmed selling controlled drugs – including diazepam – without a prescription in a 2012 BBC investigation

A fourth pharmacist has been struck off the register as a result of a BBC exposé into illegal sales of prescription medicines in London pharmacies.

Murtaza Noorali Mohamedali Gulamhusein, registration number 2029954, was filmed overseeing sales of diazepam, temazepam and Viagra without a prescription in a BBC Inside Out investigation that aired in December 2012, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) fitness-to-practise committee heard at a hearing on June 14. 

The GPhC accepted that Mr Gulamhusein was of "good character" and had enjoyed a long career in pharmacy.

But it stressed that he had "blatantly failed to comply with his responsibilities".

Undercover investigation

In September 2012, the BBC sent an Arabic-speaking undercover operative into Curie Pharmacy – which Mr Gulamhusein owns – on Edgware Road, London. Mr Gulamhusein asked a pharmacy student who was working at the time to speak to the operative in Arabic, because the student was fluent in the language, the GPhC heard.

Under Mr Gulamhusein's supervision, the student sold 28 tablets of diazepam 5mg and four tablets of Viagra 100mg to the operative, who did not have a prescription.

The GPhC noted that secretly-recorded footage of the transaction shows Mr Gulamhusein making reference to the “need for a prescription”, but it stressed that he did not subsequently bring the transaction to a close, and never asked the reporter if he had a prescription.

The regulator stressed that the student would not have made the sale of “his own volition”. Although Mr Gulamhusein had been on the telephone for some of the transaction, the GPhC rejected his assertion that he was unaware it was taking place.

Further sales

The undercover operative returned to the pharmacy later that month, and requested Viagra and temazepam.

The GPhC noted that Mr Gulamhusein appeared to indicate to the operative that he would be able to make the sale once his colleague – another pharmacist – had left the premises. The operative returned to the store once the colleague had left and Mr Gulamhusein made the sale.

"Deep" regrets

The regulator accepted that there had been no further complaints about Mr Gulamhusein’s conduct since these transactions, and that he has made contributions to his community “over many years”. He has also undertaken “considerable” charity work, it noted.

Overlapping investigations

While it branded some of the evidence from the BBC investigation "unsatisfactory", it rejected Mr Gulamhusein's claim that the investigation was compromised because it overlapped with a separate investigation by the Sunday Times into his pharmacy.

The GPhC noted that Mr Gulamhusein had accepted and “deeply regretted” his actions for the harm they had caused to the profession.

But it highlighted the "speed and casual manner with which the transactions took place" and stressed that harm could have been caused to patients as a result.

It concluded that Mr Gulamhusein had shown a "blatant and complete disregard for legislation", and ruled to remove him from the register.

Read the full determination here.


What do make of the ruling?

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Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Although I despise the attitude of the multiples as much as anyone else (I'm out of it now - I got lucky) this is not something you would see at a multiple because no-one is stupid enough to do this if there's no profit for them. An unscrupulous owner is at fault here and he should have been struck off right at the start. It just goes to show that moneygrabbing is moneygrabbing whether it is Boots or a one man band.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Dragging the profession into disrepute... as done daily by Boots, Lloyds, Tesco, etc.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I agree with you Trodd!

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

4 years for them to punish this pharmacist. In that case would be about 400years to eventually punish Boots or any other multiple.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

this guy deserved to be struck off!  If only the  GPhC would take similar action against boots the chemist

b t, Manager

The GPhC is not fit for purpose and it needs to be disbanded. The whole institution , from the very top down highlightswhat is wrong in regulation.

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

I agree absolutely. If it were not for the BBC programme this would never have been discovered. The measure of a body's success is its ability to detect professional misconduct on its own resources and capacity. The GPHC depends on shop floor gossip. Its inability to investigate properley is seen easily during Fitness to Practice procedures. There was a case where a registrant was accused of issuing a Controlled drug  without a Prescription, yet that prescription was available. The GPHC had the prescription or knew where it was but witheld it or did  not disclose its knowledge. So their interest is Prosecution and persecution, not improving Professional Standards and the TRUTH. I have observed and heard cases involing Controlled drugs where Registrants were offered certain deals  in exchange for going through the Fitness to Practice process. Suffice to say these registrants were not Black. 

I don't think they should call themselves Regulator but an interested participant. We actually need an independent , neutral, knowledgeable institution that will help improve Professional standards and much more importantly protect patient safety.


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