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Pharmacist and three others face bribery charges over NHS drugs claims


Pharmacist and three others face bribery charges over NHS drugs claims

A pharmacist has appeared in court on a charge of bribery alongside three other individuals over allegations NHS officials took almost £70,000 in bribes from pharmaceutical companies to recommend their medicines to GPs.

Cathal Daly, who is listed as an independent prescriber by the General Pharmaceutical Council and works at Elmham Surgery in Norfolk, appeared at Southampton Crown Court with businessman Noel Staunton, Paul Jerram, who led medicines management at Isle of Wight clinical commissioning group (IoW CCG), and Dr David Turner, a GP who worked as a consultant for the CCG and chaired a care prescription committee that advised it.

The court heard Mr Staunton was “very handsomely paid” by pharmaceutical company clients through his firm 3i Consultancy and allegedly paid Mr Jerram and Mr Turner to promote his clients’ drugs. Mr Staunton faces a corruption charge relating to the payment of £2,000 and a charge of bribery connected to the payment of £4,200.

Mr Jerram of Shanklin, Isle of Wight, was charged with six counts of bribery and one count of corruption while Mr Turner from Ventnor on the Isle of Wight was charged with five counts of bribery. The pair allegedly received or agreed to receive £68,760 in “backhanders” between January 2008 and July 2015 and were accused of acting as “paid influencers” to promote drugs manufactured by Mr Staunton’s clients for their own personal gain. They deny the charge. 


Mr Jerram and Mr Turner ran a company called JTRX which prosecutors claimed they used “as a vehicle for bribery.” The pair said they were “conduits” for IoW CCG and assured pharmaceutical companies that the money they paid to JTRX would be “properly” transferred into the CCG’s accounts but the prosecution said it never was.

Mr Daly faces a bribery charge in connection with a £1,000 payment from Mr Jerram and Mr Turner. The court heard the money was paid to Mr Daly to allegedly encourage South Norfolk clinical commissioning group, where he worked as prescribing and primary care lead, to sign off a rebate that financially benefitted Mr Jerram and Mr Turner.

Prosecutors alleged the two men convinced GP surgeries to allow them access to patients’ records and recommend they put them on drugs the pair were being paid to promote. It was also claimed Mr Jerram was in charge of software known as ScriptSwitch which was used by IoW CCG and tells GPs what alternative medicines are available when it comes to prescribing. Pharmaceutical companies have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Defence claims

In his defence, Mr Jerram said “ethics wouldn't allow him to recommend something on ScriptSwitch just for the money” and insisted his intention was to help the NHS make money. He told police he had not violated the Bribery Act because what he had done was “innovative” not “improper.”

It was alleged that Mr Staunton told pharmaceutical companies he could ensure their drugs appeared on ScriptSwitch while handing Mr Jerram “backhanders” for helping to make it happen.

The prosecutor James Hines told the court: “These defendants were each corrupt. They used their expertise, their inside knowledge, their influence and their familiarity with NHS systems to further their own, private interests.

“They achieved this in a number of different ways, but the object was always the same: to line their own pockets. They took improper payments time and time again. These defendants were each corrupt. They placed their own gain ahead of carrying out their important public functions properly.”

The trial is expected to last 11 weeks.

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