Gordon Thomson, pharmacy technician at Harts Pharmacy, Newcastle, in County Down supplied “a significant range” of POMs – including warfarin, pregabalin, antibiotics and methadone – in the absence of a qualified registered pharmacist on March 24, 2017, Downpatrick Crown Court heard last week (October 17).
For his part in the unlawful supply of the medicines, Gerard Maginn, pharmacist and owner of Harts Pharmacy, was sentenced to 100 hours community service and fined £25,000, while Mr Thomson received 80 hours of community service and a fine of £1,000, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health (DH) said.
The supply of POMs was discovered following an inspection by DH officers, the DH said.
Mr Maginn and Mr Thomson both pleaded guilty to 18 charges of the unlawful supply of POMs, the DH noted.
“Serious consequences of operating without a pharmacist”
Canice Ward, acting head of the DH’s Medicines Regulatory Group, said in a statement: “This was the first prosecution of this nature in Northern Ireland.”
“This conviction sends a clear message that there are serious consequences if an owner attempts to operate a pharmacy without a pharmacist being present,” she added.
Peter Moore, DH senior medicines enforcement officer, said: “It is with good reason that the law requires a qualified pharmacist to be present in the pharmacy dispensary when prescription medicines are being supplied to members of the public.
“When entering a pharmacy, the public should have reasonable expectation that their prescription needs will be met by a qualified professional.”
Mr Maginn will now be referred to the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to face fitness-to-practise proceedings, the regulator confirmed to C+D.
However, as pharmacy technicians are not regulated as a profession in Northern Ireland, PSNI is unable to take further action on Mr Thomson.
PSNI is working with the government towards regulating pharmacy technicians, it said.
Mr Maginn declined to comment for this article.