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Second pharmacist suspended following BBC exposé

The BBC recorded Bita Faizollahi, registration number 2047300, supervising an illegal sale of amoxicillin

Bita Faizollahi, registration number 2047300, has been suspended for 12 months after being filmed supervising the illegal sale of a prescription-only medicine

A second pharmacist has been suspended from the professional register for 12 months as a result of 2012's BBC exposé, in which she was recorded on camera supervising the illegal sale of prescription-only medicines.

An undercover reporter was able to buy antibiotics without a prescription with "frankly shocking" ease at a pharmacy run by Bita Faizollahi, registration number 2047300, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said at a fitness-to-practise hearing on July 9.

The GPhC acknowledged that Ms Faizollahi had a previously unblemished record and was held in "high regard" by patients, colleagues and friends. But it rejected her assertions that her pharmacy's counter assistant had supplied the amoxicillin without her knowledge, and said she had demonstrated no insight into her misconduct.

An undercover BBC reporter entered Ms Faizollahi's pharmacy Craig Thomson in Willesden, London, in August 2012. BBC footage showed the reporter approaching the counter assistant and asking for amoxicillin in Arabic, without supplying a prescription.

In the footage, the counter assistant then spoke to Ms Faizollahi and returned to the reporter to ask which strength he would like. After he confirmed he wanted 500mg, Ms Faizollahi was captured on camera reaching for the shelf behind her and taking a packet, then bending down behind the dispensary. The counter assistant reached down behind the dispensary and produced the medication in a white dispensing bag shortly before making a sale. No professional checks were made.

Ms Faizollahi claimed to have no recollection of the event and said she must have been unaware her counter assistant was going to sell the medication. Many customers wanted to see the medication before it was supplied, she told the GPhC, and she must have believed the counter assistant was only going to show the box of amoxicillin to the customer.

Ms Faizollahi told the GPhC she would "not even contemplate" an emergency supply of amoxicillin. In an interview with police following the broadcast of the BBC programme, Ms Faizollahi had also been "very reluctant" to accept that the footage showed her putting the medication in the dispensing bag, the GPhC heard.

The GPhC accepted that Ms Faizollahi had produced a "large number" of testimonials describing her as an honest and professional person. Some of the character witnesses also testified that Ms Faizollahi had always refused to provide medication without a prescription.

Although Ms Faizollahi had a generally "good character", the GPhC rejected her argument that she was unaware of the illegal sale. It deemed that the footage made it "obvious" she was involved and ruled that she had put the medicine in a dispensing bag. The GPhC stressed that, if Ms Faizollahi had believed the customer only wanted to look at the medicine, she would not have done this.

By failing to admit to her knowledge of the sale, Ms Faizollahi had made it "impossible to assess her true attitude" to her misconduct, the GPhC argued. It condemned her attempts to try to blame her counter assistant for the offence and stressed that the unregulated supply of antibiotics ran the risk of increasing antimicrobial resistance in the general population.

The GPhC said there was, however, some public interest in keeping on the register a "competent pharmacist" who had just one single incident of misconduct. It ruled that a year was the minimum period necessary to suspend Ms Faizollahi and ordered a review a month before its expiry, at which she would have to show she had "reflected very deeply" on her denial and prove she was fit to practise.

C+D reported the first suspension of a pharmacist involved in the BBC scandal on Monday (July 14). Five other pharmacists have been handed interim suspensions on the back of the BBC allegations – three will have hearings by the end of September and two have no set date for their hearings.

Read the full determination here.

What do you make of the ruling?

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R Blake, Pharmacy technician

In 2008 there was a pharmacist struck off for importing an endangered orchid. Not making crystal meth in his garage, not selling diazepam or amoxicillin, not breaking his child's arm and neglecting to have it treated and not stealing a cardigan.
I'm starting to get the impression that the general rule of getting away with things if you're investigated by the GPhC is "if your face fits".
Some people are getting away with big stuff, yet the odd orchid in your hand luggage is wrath of society stuff.
They need an overhaul, who's running the show?

Taranpreet Mundae, Locum pharmacist

She should have been struck off.

"The GPhC said there was, however, some public interest in keeping on the register a "competent pharmacist" who had just one single incident of misconduct. "

one single incident that we know of, that is.....

Suspensions do seem crazy in the face of selling POMs without a prescription. Its the most basic of basic pharmacy laws that there is simply no excuse to break.

R A, Community pharmacist

Suspension is a joke. Pharmacists like this should be struck off. They completely ruin it for the rest of us.

Francis Jones, Community pharmacist

She should be struck off without further ado.Her actions and,those of others who made illegal supplies, bring the profession into disrepute.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Does anyone remember a locum being struck off for cheating on £12 in store credits ??? No public was involved there, yet she was STRUCK OFF !!!

Halal Butcher, Academic pharmacist

Right you two numb nuts ^^

If you don't wana post then don't post for starters. Secondly if you do the crime you do the time, simple as! Good work GPhC. As from my previous post on the first one to get suspended, how much did they pay for this OTC sale ?

Khuram Malik, Superintendent Pharmacist

the reported paid £5 according to the bbc film

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

Lied TO THE GPhC about her knowledge of the sale, publicly brought the profession into disrepute, demonstrated no insight, and that's before I even get started on the blatant. Illegal sale of a POM. The GPhC is A JOKE. People have been struck off for much less. Why wasn't there a 'public interest' in keeping those previous pharmacists on te register?

Moral of the story-regardless of the gravity of your offence and dishonesty, if the GPhC want to keep you on the register, they will do so.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I am tired of commenting on these topics. Please copy paste from previous posts :-) Why do we even discuss these any more when we know the FtP at GPhC is a big joke.

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