Yogesh Patel, registration number 2079221, pleaded guilty to theft and was fined a total of £668 at St Albans Magistrates Court in February last year, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)’s fitness-to-practise committee heard at a hearing on March 7, 2018.
The GPhC noted that Mr Patel – who did not attend the hearing – had “some financial difficulties” at the time of his offence and no previous fitness-to-practise findings had been made against him.
However, it stressed he had “intentionally defrauded his employer” and had provided no evidence of “genuine remorse”.
“CCTV showed him taking the register”
Suspicions were first raised about Mr Patel’s actions at a branch of Jade Pharmacy in St Albans on November 19, 2016 when the superintendent pharmacist could not find the CD register. He called Mr Patel – who was off work with an eye injury – who told him it “should be in the dispensary”, the GPhC heard.
However, CCTV footage from the previous day showed Mr Patel bringing the register into the pharmacy at 8.56am, and taking it out again at 7.10pm, the GPhC heard.
“[The superintendent] also saw on the CCTV footage the registrant leave the pharmacy with a colleague at 6.30pm, but then return 10 minutes later once the store was closed, take a box of what looked like tramadol tablets…and put them into a blue carrier bag. He saw the registrant leave with the CD register and the blue bag,” the regulator heard.
“Confessed to taking tramadol out of the pharmacy”
During an interview with the area manager two days later, Mr Patel admitted he had taken the register home, “explaining that he was behind with his work and needed to carry out the weekly CD audit to check that the register balanced”, the GPhC heard.
The area manager later explained to the GPhC that “there was no electronic copy of the CD register, and therefore it was important that it was kept in the pharmacy at all times in order that there could be a proper audit trail”.
After initially denying he had taken prescription-only medication out of the pharmacy, Mr Patel told the area manager he had taken domperidone “for a friend who was newly pregnant” – which he later admitted to the police was untrue, the GPhC heard.
When warned the police would be called, Mr Patel admitted he had taken “three boxes of tramadol, nitrazepam and diazepam out of the pharmacy”, the GPhC heard.
“Intended to return it to the store”
A police search of Mr Patel’s car produced “various boxes of prescription-only medicines” and between 20 and 30 paper prescriptions, including prescriptions for controlled drugs, the GPhC heard.
In a police interview, Mr Patel “admitted he had taken prescription-only medication from the pharmacy, but [claimed he] had intended to return it to the store and put it back on the shelves”, the GPhC noted.
The regulator heard that “the registrant told the police that he had some financial difficulties and had not been able to pay the mortgage that month, and could not afford his travel costs to work”.
“Breaching the important relationship of trust”
In its determination, the GPhC said that Mr Patel’s “intention was to remove the drugs from the legitimate supply chain, thus putting members of the public at risk if they were to take medication which had not been prescribed to them”.
The drugs “could have been given or sold to people who were vulnerable and susceptible to drug addiction” or to members of the public who “could have suffered dangerous side effects”, it said.
“It is likely that he stole from the pharmacy on repeated occasions,” the GPhC added.
“The proven facts amounted to a serious criminal offence,” said the regulator, which added that “secretly taking the [CD] register home on at least two occasions and then lying to a manager regarding its whereabouts would be regarded as dishonest”.
Mr Patel had “not provided any evidence of genuine remorse, insight or remediation”, the GPhC pointed out. “There is nothing before this committee which satisfies it that this type of behaviour would not happen again in the future if the registrant were facing similar financial difficulties.”
The GPhC concluded the registrant’s behaviour was “fundamentally incompatible with continued registration”, and ruled to strike him from the register.
Read the full determination here.