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.