The disappearance of large amounts of addictive drugs has caught up with a Central Coast-based chemist who admits he was not careful enough.
More than 12,000 pills, mostly opioids and anti-depressants, were "unaccounted for and possibly lost, stolen or diverted" in little over a year between January 1, 2017, to September 3, 2018, according to evidence before the NSW Administrative Tribunal.
The chemist was one of two in charge at that time and there was some confusion as to whose role it was to keep electronic records of the Schedule 8 drugs, when the pharmacy changed over from paper records to electronic records, the tribunal was told.
There was a general lack of attention to detail when it came to reconciling the type and number of drugs in store and those being delivered, evidence brought by the Health Care Complaints Commission says.
The chemist was investigated by the commission which recommended that he be suspended from being able to practise as a pharmacist for at least one year.
The prescription medications not properly accounted for included opioids popular with some illicit drug users such as Endone (4,820 tablets) and other different types of oxycodone (6176 tablets), and other well-known drugs of addiction.
There was also a failure to properly store Ritalin, Targin, and blank script pads. In one case prescription medications were given to patients without a valid script, but the script was provided later, or they were dispensed without being paid for, but they were paid for later.
Not enough checks were undertaken regarding discrepancies between the pharmacy's dangerous drugs register and what was kept in storage, and drugs which should have been destroyed were given to other patients, the commission said.
The pharmacist, who was first registered to practise in 1971 and who was working part-time at the chemist, has denied any personal knowledge or direct involvement in the drugs being lost, stolen or diverted.
He said they were diverted before being recorded in the pharmacy's electronic version of a controlled drug register. He admitted to failing to secure some drugs as well as the missing script pad in the required way and told the tribunal he deeply regretted that failure.
"He accepted that he should have been more diligent in recording and accounting on the dangerous drugs register Schedule 8 medications that were delivered on days when he worked, which allowed for the conditions for the drugs to be lost, stolen or diverted, albeit not by him," the judgement says.
The tribunal was told the man had not worked for 2.5 years as a pharmacist because of the investigation forcing his wife to support him as well as herself. He was formally reprimanded and found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. The tribunal accepted that he had allowed his registration to lapse and ordered him not to practise again as a pharmacist for one year.
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