Layer 1

NI conviction prompts tougher checks for illegal CD sales

The tougher checks will be "unique" to Northern Ireland, the government says

Northern Ireland’s Department of Health says the conviction of an Armagh pharmacist for selling almost 900,000 tablets has prompted it to introduce additional audits

­­­The Northern Irish (NI) government will introduce tougher checks to prevent the illegal sale of controlled drugs following the conviction of a pharmacist.

Maurice Currie, 46, of Portmore Road, Lisburn, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of illegally supplying 875,000 tablets - such as prescription-only medicines like diazepam, tramadol and co-codamol - while working at a pharmacy in Armagh between 2009 and 2013, the government said. Mr Currie (Pharmaceutical Society Northern Ireland registration number 2674) was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment at Newry Crown Court last week (April 27), it said.

In response to the case, Northern Ireland's Department of Health (NHSSPSNI) said it would work with national commissioner the Health and Social Care Board to put in place "additional checks... to identify any such type of illegal activity in future”.

The checking system - which would be “unique” in the UK - would be likley to involve extra audits around the purchase and supply of commonly abused drugs, it told C+D on Thursday (May 30).

The DHSSPSNI was already at an "advanced stage of planning", although it did not have a date for implementing the checks, it added.

'The most serious diversion of medicines'

Mr Currie’s actions came to light following an investigation by the DHSSPSNI's Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG). Peter Moore, the officer in charge of the investigation, said it was “the most serious diversion of medicines by a professional that the MRG has investigated”.

Professor Mike Mawhinney, head of the MRG, said it was "important to stress that this diversion was the result of the actions of a rogue pharmacist determined to break the law”.

“The public can be assured that the vast majority of pharmacists in Northern Ireland continue to provide an essential service in an honest and exceptionally professional manner," he added.

The DHSSPSNI said it would forward the full details of the investigation to Pharmaceutical Society Northern Ireland. Mr Currie's registration with the regulator is suspended. 


What are your views on strengthening checks around controlled drug sales?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Login or register to post comments

Job of the week

Accreditation and Recognition Panel member positions
Home Based
On application