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Pharmacist struck off after removing tramadol and CD register

Yogesh Patel (2079221) admitted to taking tramadol, as well as nitrazepam and diazepam
Yogesh Patel (2079221) admitted to taking tramadol, as well as nitrazepam and diazepam

A pharmacist who stole tramadol and removed the controlled drugs (CD) register from a pharmacy has been struck off the register.

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.

21 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the GPhC's ruling?

Phillippe Togers, Academic pharmacist

Pharmacy students are coming out of university with circa 50k of debt and zero job prospects. Expect much more of this to come. People need money to live.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

That'll thin out the pharmacist excess then. Silver lining to every cloud and all that. 

However, that prat selling tramadol and xanax over the counter didn't look like an impoverished newbie. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing and hopefully he'll be removed from the register PDQ. The public have a bad enough image of us as it is without that sort of idiot buggering it up even further for all of us.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5671911/The-pharmacist-drug-dealers-man-sold-60-Xanax-tablets-150.html

patrick black, Marketing Manager

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Interested to know what you said.....

C+D seems a little harsh at removing comments just lately.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

This chap must be awfully naive. He's looking at a suspended jail sentence, kiss goodbye to getting loans/mortgage.

One silver lining is he could join investment banking as he seems to have the right credentials

Phillippe Togers, Academic pharmacist

Jail = no gas bill, no electricity bill, no water bill, no rent, free food, no tv license, no council tax, no income tax, no national insurance, no car insurance, no car tax, no mot costs, no cpd, no PDA costs, no GPhC costs, no parking tickets, no speeding tickets, NO WORK. Free pool table, free gym, free movies. Free books, free XBOX, free TV, free radio. The list goes on....

Interleukin$ Locum, Community pharmacist

.... except you lack understanding of the simple concept of liberty . 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

To anyone who saw my previous comment and was offended by it, I sincerely apologise. I was merely trying to point out with possibly misguided humour (there's NO room for that in pharmacy nowadays) that there are distinct downsides to a life behind bars. Violence is an everyday occurrence even in the softest prison and I doubt if ANY of us would survive the experience unscathed one way or another.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

If he took the CD register home to check it balanced, then I've been doing this wrong all these years.

Interleukin$ Locum, Community pharmacist

If you ever find yourself hauling those enormous books anywhere beyond 5 foot of the cabinet , out of the pharmacy or even to the consultation room .... you re up to no good . I put it to you that you are fiddling the books 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

How can you check it balances at home?? Do you take the stock home as well?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It can be easily explained by counting stock whilst at the pharmacy, then check if it matches the quantity in the register whilst at home.

Not the greatest method, but still feasible.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Total and utter waste of time though. What would you do if there was a discrepancy? It's supposed to be the RP responsibility to investigate but in this scenario there is no RP and therefore the whole thing becomes illegal.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Agreed.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

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Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Fair enough - that's what I make of it.

Disillusioned Sussex chic, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

Quite rightly so, as a pharmacist he knew the rules. It's such a shame that the 'judge' didn't force this man to have rehab for his addiction. whilst he was receiving punishent he should also have been receiving medical help for addiction. what lies beyond this for him?

A B, Community pharmacist

It doesn't actually mention anything about him having an addiction problem. If he does then I have some sympathy, his rather stupid explanations of his actions suggests he was in a bad place. But if he did this for the simple financial gain then I'm afraid there is no excuse.

Another Pharmacist, Hospital pharmacist

That’s great holistic thinking Jacqueline. I hope he gets the support of the addiction services he needs too

Chris ., Community pharmacist

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