Layer 1

Pharmacist receives three-month suspension for supplying cannabis

The GPhC says Ms Aurangzeb recognised she acted as a friend, rather than a professional, by accepting the cannabis from a patient

Mariam Aurangzeb, registration number 2074916, received a police caution for storing cannabis for a colleague and also admitted to supplying co-codamol without a prescription

A pharmacist has been suspended from the professional register for three months for handling cannabis for a colleague and supplying co-codamol without a prescription.

A methadone patient handed Mariam Aurangzeb, registration number 2074916, a package of cannabis to give to a colleague, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard at a fitness-to-practise hearing on March 18. She accepted the package and received a police caution as a result.

Ms Aurangzeb also supplied co-codamol to a security guard without a prescription while working at the same pharmacy. The regulator condemned Ms Aurangzeb’s “blatant disregard” for pharmacy standards, but stressed that she had shown “genuine remorse” for her actions, which were the result of her blurring the distinction between acting as a pharmacist and a friend.

Ms Aurangzeb had worked at the pharmacy in question, an unnamed health centre business in Dewsbury, since she was a pre-registration student. During her time there, she had witnessed senior pharmacists giving each other - and sometimes other people - prescription-only medication without a prescription “on several occasions”, the GPhC heard.

"Keeping patients happy"

Ms Aurangzeb said she had queried an emergency supply as a student, but her managers had “emphasised the importance of keeping patients happy”. On October 19, 2013, CCTV captured her giving co-codamol to a security guard.

While working at the pharmacy in November 2013, Ms Aurangzeb also accepted a package from a regular methadone patient, who she said “regularly reeked of cannabis”. The patient asked her to give the package, which she knew to be cannabis but looked “like a toy in a Kinder egg”, to a colleague. Ms Aurangzeb accepted the drug, wrapped in a pharmacy bag, and put it in the drawer with her colleague’s name on.

The pharmacy’s owner was alerted to Ms Aurangzeb’s misconduct when he received a report that she had taken cannabis from a methadone addict. When reviewing the pharmacy’s CCTV footage, he also saw that she had given medicine to the security guard.

The owner interviewed Ms Aurangzeb, who admitted what she had done. He dismissed her and referred the matter to the police. She was interviewed by police in November and accepted a police caution for supplying a Class B controlled drug in March 2014.

Ms Aurangzeb accepted she had let her professional standards slip while working at the pharmacy. She said the security guard regularly received painkillers from the pharmacy without a prescription – sometimes helping himself to medication – but recognised that this should not have swayed her judgement.

Not wasting medicines

Ms Aurangzeb had explained to police that she had discovered that the wrong brand of painkillers had been packaged at the pharmacy and offered them to the security guard “rather than have them go to waste”, the GPhC heard.

She had since recognised that she had made an error in acting as a friend, rather than a professional pharmacist, when accepting the cannabis, the GPhC said. It heard that the patient had initially offered Ms Aurangzeb the drug for herself, but she had declined.

The GPhC recognised that Ms Aurangzeb had made “full and frank admissions” of her misconduct and co-operated with the investigation, expressing remorse for her action. It commended her for spending time away from the profession since the incident to “reflect and begin developing the process of insight”, and completing a CPPE course on substance abuse.

But the GPhC stressed that Ms Aurangzeb had abused the trust of her employer, been dishonest in accepting the drugs and could have harmed the security guard by giving him co-codamol without a prescription. It ruled to suspend her from the register for three months.

Read the full judgment here.

14 Comments

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

This is a bit weird to say the least? ......... Cannabis from a substance misuser to pass on to someone else....then supplying POMs........... speechless.

Mueid Kaleem, Locum pharmacist

Personally I think she should have been struck off. Theres no excuse for handling illegal drugs. I know she didn't accept it for personal use but as a professional who supposedly should be helping people to improve their health, she should have known better than to accept the cannabis for her colleague. Pure disregard for the pharmacy profession.

Abid P, Primary care pharmacist

The punishment seems appropriate in this case. She made a couple of errors in judgment. She admitted to them and showed remorse. No need to hang, draw and quarter the lass. It's a warning for all of us of against just accepting the 'dodgy' practices that sometimes go on in pharmacies. Just because other staff are breaking the rules and have been doing it for a while doesn't mean we have to go along with it. Raise your concerns with the manager and cover your back...no-one else will!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Easier said than done.I'm sure it looks lovely printed in the company hand book though. Try raising concerns at a multiple and see how quickly you'll find yourself watching daytime TV. It's more a case of keep your head down and look after number ONE and just try to make it to the end of the day.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Easier said than done.I'm sure it looks lovely printed in the company hand book though. Try raising concerns at a multiple and see how quickly you'll find yourself watching daytime TV. It's more a case of keep your head down and look after number ONE and just try to make it to the end of the day.

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Abid, I don't think that any of the people commenting here are really commenting on the actual length of suspension in itself. The real question has to be around consistency. How can a guy who phones in a comment line when he had evidence of obvious harassment and bullying from his managers get three months for dishonesty...yet another who has been convicted by the police for a drugs offence AND has been supplying prescription only medicines without a prescription gets the same penalty? Madness surely?

Jonathon Churchill, Medical student

What about this dispenser who the cannabis was intended for? What happened to them?

charanjit Marwah, Locum pharmacist

why weren't the so called previous pharmacists who dispensed medication without prescription challenged?

Lancelot Spratt, Accuracy checking technician

Probably because we only have her word that it happened.

Disillusioned Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Lack of evidence doesn't normally trouble the GPhc.........

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

She took a package "reeking of cannabis" from a "druggie", and only got 3 months! I don't understand what is going on. Stick a few quid in your back pocket, and you are hung drawn and quartered. Commit two crimes that go against everything that the profession stands for, and you get a minimal suspension. Don't understand the local plod only giving her a caution, no wonder the drug problem continues to grow.

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Wasn't the guy from Boots who phoned it the feedback line given 3 months?

Shahid Bashir, Locum pharmacist

I mean I used to hear of harshness from previous regulator but to go the other extreme ie that of being too leniant is also something which must be avoided.how can anyone having gone through rigorous training be so naive as to accept any package from anyone to pass on. I wonder how this pharmacist was signed off as competent during her pre-Reg year.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

Three months? April fools is not until tomorrow GUYS!

Job of the week

Pharmacist / Manager
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
To be negotiated + benefits