Three pharmacists who worked at Kirrawee (under the previous ownership of David Wilson Night & Day Pharmacy), came to the attention of the Health Care Complaints Commission. Picture: Chris Lane
Three Kirrawee pharmacists have had action taken against them by the Health Care Complaints Commission.
Two had their registrations cancelled, and one was suspended.
The commission prosecuted a complaint against Dillan Lal, a registered pharmacist and joint proprietor of the David Wilson Day Night Chemist at Kirrawee, which is under new ownership.
It was alleged that between 2015 to 2018, Mr Lal either dispensed (or as proprietor of the pharmacy was responsible for the dispensing) of inappropriately large quantities of schedule 8 drugs of addiction to eight patients.
In January 2022, the tribunal heard that patients were given oxycodone in quantities not recognised within the therapeutic standard.
The tribunal heard the drug was also being supplied concurrently by the pharmacy with benzodiazepines (diazepam), knowing that one of the patients had an opioid dependence problem.
Oxycodone, an opioid analgesic, relieves moderate to severe pain. Benzodiazepines are minor tranquillisers, usually prescribed to relieve anxiety and to assist in sleep. They can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal and epilepsy.
The commission alleged the medication supplied risked patients’ health and safety. It alleged that Mr Lal should have known that most of the patients in question were, or were at risk of, becoming drug-dependent.
The tribunal stated that Mr Lal’s conduct represented a “flagrant breach of his legal, professional and ethical obligations,” and was “clearly incompatible with the practice of his profession at a standard which can reasonably be expected by the public.”
Records showed Mr Lal acknowledged some aspects of his misconduct.
The commission alleged that Mr Lal’s wife, Priya Patel, also a registered pharmacist and joint proprietor, failed to maintain proper oversight of the supply of Schedule 8 and Schedule 4D drugs.
She acknowledged her practice was below the appropriate standards, and expressed regret, stating she had made errors in relying on the judgement of the prescribing medical practitioners.
Both their registrations were cancelled for three years. The stated they did not wish to work as pharmacists anymore.
The commission also prosecuted a complaint against Peter James Foster, from the same pharmacy for the inappropriate dispensing of schedule 8 drugs of addiction to eight patients. The medication dispensed included oxycodone, benzodiazepines (diazepam, alprazolam) and fentanyl.
Fentanyl is about 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It is prescribed for chronic, severe pain.
The tribunal found Mr Foster guilty of professional misconduct and unsatisfactory professional conduct. He was suspended for six months.
Mr Foster admitted to the tribunal in making “a few key errors of judgement”. He said there were “serious systemic issues within pharmacy and medicine that have existed for a very long time with regards to the supply of these medications.”
When challenged about the quantity of the drugs dispensed, he said he had put “too much trust” in prescriptions from doctors. Mr Foster said he based his practice and what he thought was “normal” or what the prescribing doctors “had done for years” rather than following regulations.
The tribunal conceded Mr Foster failed to remove himself from a situation that he realised was uncomfortable, especially because he was an experienced pharmacist who served from time to time as pharmacist in charge. The tribunal heard that he now strictly follows guidelines.
Contacted by phone on Thursday, a staff member said Mr Foster was on leave.