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Pharmacist suspended for ‘regularly’ using cocaine

Brendan Ambrose Glackin, registration number 2055187, has been suspended from the register for a year by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) after "regularly" using cocaine and intending to purchase class A drugs.

Mr Glackin tested positive for cocaine use and admitted to police in August 2010 his intent to purchase cocaine and heroin.

The GPhC fitness-to-practise committee heard that Mr Glackin had led a "happy, honest and successful" life until his girlfriend had suffered a "tragic personal event", after which the couple began taking illicit drugs. It also noted that Mr Glackin had made a "determined effort" to change his life since his arrest.

The GPhC ruled that the misuse of drugs was "wholly unacceptable in a registered pharmacist"

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But the committee ruled that the misuse of drugs was "wholly unacceptable in a registered pharmacist" and suspended Mr Glackin for 12 months, calling for a review at the end of the period.

Mr Glackin was arrested by the police on August 14, 2010, when he tested positive for cocaine use and admitted to using the drug on previous occasions. He also told the police that he had intended to purchase cocaine and heroin with the £30 he was carrying.

The regulator sent letters to Mr Glackin in January and February 2011 following his arrest, requesting an interview. But despite a recorded delivery receipt for the initial letter of January 12 being signed, Mr Glackin did not agree to an interview until March 11.

The GPhC heard that Mr Glackin had ignored some letters and "hoped the whole matter would go away". Mr Glackin eventually told the GPhC in written evidence that he had given the police the wrong information and that he had not intended to purchase drugs. He also claimed that he had been given a drink containing cocaine without his knowledge and that he was unaware his girlfriend was using heroin.

But the committee questioned Mr Glackin's statement, saying his explanations were "so improbable and inconsistent" with what he had previously said, that they must be untrue. "It is extremely improbable that an experienced pharmacist could be in a relationship lasting two years or more with a girlfriend who was using heroin without being aware that she was doing so," the committee said. "Mr Glackin must have observed the drug paraphernalia that the police found at [his] girlfriend's house, since he had been there since the previous day."

It added that the positive cocaine test result was likely to be the result of "deliberate abuse", after Mr Glackin admitted to using cocaine "on a regular basis" – at least 12 times over a year-long period.

The committee noted there had been "no criticism" of Mr Glackin's clinical competence and that he had no previous disciplinary history. It also said the misconduct had not led to a criminal conviction or caution. The commitee heard that Mr Glackin had attempted to change his life by "breaking off relations with former friends and renewing old interests, as well as returning to live with his parents".

But it added that Mr Glackin had taken illegal drugs over "a long period of time" and said substance abuse was "wholly unacceptable in a registered pharmacist". The committee also said it was "concerned" Mr Glackin had not felt able to return to full-time work for the past year. Despite having "real reason to hope" the misconduct would not be repeated, it deemed there was a "risk of resumption".

The GPhC ruled to suspend Mr Glackin for 12 months, with a review at the end of the period, when he will have to prove he has complied with CPD requirements and attended a return-to-practise course. The council said it would also request a report from Mr Glackin's GP to determine whether he was fit to practise.

What do you think of the GPhC's ruling?

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shelton magunje, Community pharmacist

Thumps up to the GPhc, if it was still the draconian RPSGB, then this poor guy would have been struck off! At least the GPhc recognises that pharmacists are human, they make mistakes like everyone else

Brian Austen, Senior Management

How does suspension for one year compare to other professions, for example doctors and nurses. I think it would be the end of their career. He also never cooperated with the committee and made what they considered to be a false statement. Its not tragic, its criminal and totally unacceptable for someone that checks and dispenses drugs.

Middle Way, Community pharmacist

I'm not convinced Doctors and Nurses would be punished any more severely. What's the basis of that opinion? If I were to give my opinion I'd say Doctors generally seem to get away with a lot more than pharmacists...a lot more.

And would it really affect his clinical/accuracy checking ability? Or to provide pharmacy services? That depends on the circumstances and I think the GPhC already looked at those and decided it would not.

I do agree that I thought they might come down harder on him for not cooperating. But hey, wishing someone else gets into trouble doesn't benefit us in the slightest, so let's leave it to the regulator.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Would you not want another chance to sort yourself out...I think you would!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Hope he gets the appropriate help, but what can possess anyone to use class A drugs is clearly beyond me. Tragic event.....get a bit of therapy and move on as no need to reach for the drugs and booze.

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