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GPhC suspends locum after conviction for fraudulent codeine script

Pharmacy News

GPhC suspends locum after conviction for fraudulent codeine script

By Arthur Walsh

A locum pharmacist who was convicted in 2021 of writing a fraudulent prescription for codeine received a four-month suspension from the General Pharmaceutical Council after a fitness to practise hearing last month.

In April 2021, Ariyan Hassan was given a suspended sentence, told to carry out 100 hours' unpaid work and ordered to pay fines after he pleaded guilty to the charge of making a false instrument. While working at a Boots branch in Marlborough in July 2020, he forged a prescriber’s signature on a private prescription for 2000ml of codeine.

Mr Hassan told police he had been threatened outside his home by a man who said he would stab Mr Hassan with a syringe unless he supplied the codeine. He said he “deliberately inserted errors into the prescription so that it would never leave the pharmacy,” according to the GPhC’s report on the hearing, which took place on November 24-25 at its Canary Wharf headquarters.

He did not put the individual’s date of birth on the form, hoping that colleagues would spot this and refuse to issue the drugs when the man came to collect his prescription. The fitness to practise committee accepted the court’s finding that Mr Hassan had been coerced into writing the prescription and did not seek to challenge this claim. 

Representing the GPhC at the November hearing, barrister Gareth Thomas said Mr Hassan had breached a number of professional standards, including those around working in partnership with others, using professional judgement and behaving in a professional manner.

Mr Hassan’s actions “had the potential to put members of the public at risk of harm,” Mr Thomas argued, adding that they also meant that at the time of the incident he could not be trusted by his colleagues, employers or the wider public”.

The FtP committee found that Mr Hassan’s fitness to practise is impaired “on public interest grounds by reason of his conviction”. It said that although the fact Mr Hassan had been threatened “might be seen as a mitigating feature,” he had “failed to take an opportunity to confront and expose this highly dangerous behaviour”.

However, it noted that Mr Hassan had shown a “high level of insight” and demonstrated remorse for his behaviour.

It imposed a four-month suspension on Mr Hassan’s registration from December 27 on the grounds this was needed to uphold the reputation of the profession, but did not impose any interim measures during the 28-day appeal period as it found there were “no ongoing public protection issues”.

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