Jailed zolpidem pharmacist struck off the register
A pharmacist jailed last year for diverting large quantities of sleeping pills to the black market was struck off the register following a recent GPhC hearing.
The remote fitness to practise committee hearing on May 24-25 heard that Dean Dookhan, who had worked as a pharmacist in Northbrook Pharmacy in Solihull, was sentenced last July to 27 months for illegally supplying Class C drugs and possessing a medicinal product for the purpose of wholesale distribution without a licence.
He had acted alongside fellow Solihull pharmacist Narvinder Nandra, who also received a custodial sentence.
Between September 1 2015 and May 13 2016 the pair ordered over 20,000 packs of zolpidem which they then sold to an individual based in Trinidad who was not a legitimate medicines wholesaler.
An MHRA investigation was first launched after the owners of Northbrook Pharmacy became suspicious of the large number of orders for zolpidem.
Released on probation
Mr Dookhan was released from prison on April 14 this year but is being supervised by probation for the remainder of his sentence.
Having undertaken remedial steps while in prison such as completing CPD on addiction issues, he is currently working in a pharmacy in a non-pharmacist capacity and is “held in high regard” by his employer, the FtP committee heard.
He said that during the period in question he had felt under extreme pressure to turn around “a difficult pharmacy” and felt “reluctant to show any form of weakness, to ask for help”.
These efforts were “detrimental to his health and decision making,” the FtP committee heard.
‘Sustained lack of respect for the law’
The committee found Mr Dookhan had breached “several fundamental principles of the profession” through his actions and shown a “sustained lack of respect for the laws of this country”.
His criminal convictions “undermine the public’s ability justifiably to have trust and confidence in pharmacy professionals,” said the committee, which found that his fitness to practise was impaired.
The committee said that while it had not seen any evidence of patients coming to harm because of the exported zolpidem, it was “conceivable and even likely” that those who eventually received it were vulnerable and at risk of harm.
After considering the range of possible sanctions, the committee argued that the maximum suspension period of 12 months was inadequate as Mr Dookhan would be able to resume practice while “still serving his sentence for committing serious drugs offences committed in the course of his pharmacy practice and for personal gain”.
It therefore decided to remove his name from the register and impose an interim suspension until the removal takes effect.