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GPhC investigating repeat offender pharmacy for unlawful POM sales

GPhC: We will take any urgent action where required to protect the public
GPhC: We will take any urgent action where required to protect the public

A London pharmacy is being investigated for the second time after the Daily Mail uncovered new evidence of the illegal sale of prescription-only medicines (POMs).

The newspaper sent an undercover reporter into Al Razi Pharmacy on Edgware Road, London, “last month”, in an attempt to purchase POMs without a prescription, it said in an article published yesterday (April 30).

Video footage shows pharmacist Anatolijus Kostiukevicius selling the reporter 60 Xanax pills and 100 tramadol tablets for £150 and £250 respectively.

The footage also shows Mr Kostiukevicius explaining that “this is [a] controlled drug that needs [a]...prescription”, and that “before two years ago it was like antibiotic[s]”.

The same pharmacy came under suspicion in 2012 after an investigation by the BBC uncovered the sale of amoxicillin and Viagra without a prescription. The superintendent pharmacist at the time was suspended from the register for 12 months for overseeing the sales.

GPhC investigating

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) confirmed to C+D this morning (May 1) that it is now looking into the new concerns about Al Razi Pharmacy raised by the Daily Mail investigation and has referred the latest case to the council’s fitness-to-practise committee.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin also thanked the Daily Mail for “raising with us the concerns identified through their investigation”.

“This is particularly useful as we do not have legal powers to carry out our own undercover investigations,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“We are investigating these concerns and will take any urgent action where required to protect the public,” Mr Rudkin added.

Al Razi Pharmacy was unavailable to comment at the time of going to press.

What do you make of the GPhC's reponse?

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

There is a video. This is not a patient complaint with no evidence. Has the mail got the packs ? Are they labelled emergency supply where there might be doubt that the video has been edited ? There should be an amendment to the legislation for immediate action in these circumstances.

The cost alone shows what is going on. I accept overheads in central London are high but ..........

I suspect we all know the answer to the label question. 

patrick black, Marketing Manager

GPhC treat different people differently. Everybody can see that. What is Duncan Rudkin doing? Pharmacists selling POMs and CDs over the counter and he says:

“This is particularly useful as we do not have legal powers to carry out our own undercover investigations,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Funny how they can come down on pharmacists when they want. Something is 100% not right in the way that the GPhC operate. 

It must be looked into, particularly seeing how much Mr Rudkin is being paid to dodge these matters.

Unfortunately pharmacists have no collective voice and are not rich enough to launch a massive investigation into what on Earth is going on at Canary Wharf. Corruption, corruption and corruption.

A Hussain, Senior Management

I wonder if they had to fax a photo to pfizer of the person trying to buy the Xanax illegaly before they'd release any?

patrick black, Marketing Manager

Is it really this pharmacy which is bringing tthe profession into disrepute?

Or is our extremely expensive regulator, which is not regulating?

We all know the answer.

Get ACCUSED of stealing a £12 cardigan from Asda. Struck off immediately. Selling tramadol/oramorph/antibiotics over the counter? No action.

They go after easy prey, people who won't fight back. You or I would call these people BULLIES.

Someone with the resources needs to get down and look at this stuff because it's mind-boggling. Are the FtP committee stoned or drunk when they make their decisions?

What on Earth is going on here?

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

What’s happened to ‘Once bitten, twice shy!’?!!! 



Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

Funding cuts and diving wages ?! IQ call 

Steven Marley, Community pharmacist

Why has this place not been shut down already? Hearing about some of the stuff pharmacists get into trouble and struck off for (even though they should have been) is nothing compared to SELLING TRAMADOL OVER THE COUNTER????? There must be a way legally this place could have some sort of interim suspension of services imposed?? As well as a lot of other things, it makes me feel disheartened as a person trying to make an honest living, that a mistake or a distraction could ruin me at any time, and this guy is doing that. I hope he feels the full force of the law, and quickly. A custodial sentence would be appropriate I think.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

"To err is human, to forgive devine" - but doing it a second time and he needs dealing with properly!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Just a query - bearing in mind that Xanax is a blacklist item (I haven't dispensed it privately in years), didn't any wholesalers notice that one pharmacy in particular was using a lot of it? Surely there must be safety measures in place to flag up suspicious buying patterns? In no way do I want to blame wholesalers for a dishonest pharmacist but measures like this might help to stop a situation before too many people are affected by it.

David Fyfe, Senior Management

The MHRA are now actively instructing wholesalers during inspections to monitor sales in an attempt to identify suspicious trends, predominantly with CDs. We have been looking at ours closely on a weekly basis for over 12 months now. But you are right, wholesalers should bear a responsibility to sell on responsibly.


Delectable Skeptic, Community pharmacist

or did Pfizer? 

No...didn't think so, despite "Patient safety is our first priority" (quote from their website)

Andy Burrells, Community pharmacist

But try and get Xarelto and you're quota'd after three tablets

Peter John Walker, Manager

I do believe that these pharmacists are bringing ourprofession in to disrepute.  The GPhC do need to follow through all cases and Ido believe that these pharmacists are bringing our profession into disrepute. The GPhC need to come down very strongly with those pharmacists who are shaming our profession. They know exactly what they are doing and it is just utter greed. No excuses.

patrick black, Marketing Manager

The GPhC needs to deal with these pharmacists. Their lack of action is bringing the profession into disrepute. The GPhC only tackles issues which it can deal with quickly and easily for a quick result that they can plaster over their website to make it look like they are doing something useful.

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

This area has been notorious for many years for illegal supply--why am I not surprised that nothing has been done!! 

"Money makes the world go round" ???

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The gaff should be shut down. There are at least two more pharmacies (both much more reputable looking - thanks, Google streetview) within easy walking distance so no-one would be inconvenienced (except those wanting to buy Xanax, I suppose) so just cut the head off the snake and be done with it.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

How many times will we have to hear this before the place is shut down?? It's obviously not a safe pharmacy - how many people have had their lives destroyed by the stuff this place has supplied?

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