The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Fitness to Practise Committee decided to remove a pharmacist from the GPhC Register at a ‘remote videolink’ hearing held on 13 – 14 April.
“The decision will not take effect until 12 May 2023 or, if an appeal is lodged, once that appeal has been concluded,” the committee said.
Kapil Ramesh Rabadia, a pharmacist first registered on 25 July 2011 with GPhC under registration number 2075823 was convicted of ‘fraud by abuse of position’ and ‘being concerned in supplying controlled drugs’ following a guilty plea on 13 September 2021.
He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for the fraud by abuse of position and six months in respect of supplying a 3 Class B drug. However, the interim suspension set out in the decision takes effect immediately and will lapse when the removal decision takes effect or once any appeal is concluded.
Between May 2018 and June 2019, Kapil ordered codeine linctus and Phenergan in excess of 100 bottles of each for four men who threatened him with knives and guns. The men told the pharmacist that he needed to continue to make the supplies or “there would be consequences” for him and his family.
The Committee considered that the Pharmacist’s conduct and the convictions are very serious. It said, Kapil ‘facilitated the 11 removal of over 2000 bottles of codeine linctus along with Phenergan from the pharmacy premises, knowing they were to be diverted to be used recreationally, with the potential risk of harm to users which that would entail.
It is of the view that the Pharmacist’s conviction for fraud by abuse of position and supplying a controlled drug (Class B), is one that goes directly to the heart of his role as a trusted member of the pharmacy profession.
“He breached that trust repeatedly over a sustained period. Despite the coercion he faced, he made no attempt to seek help or report what was going on until he was forced to by his employer’s findings,” said the committee.
The committee considers the removal from the Register is the only sanction which will adequately protect the public, and mark the gravity of the Kapil’s conviction, by maintaining public confidence in the profession, and in the regulator, and upholding proper standards of behavior.
It has found that the Kapil’s convictions and sentence are fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the Register, not only because there remains a risk that the Registrant might repeat his conduct, and this could pose a risk of harm to the public, but also given the public interest issues which the Committee has found to be engaged by the facts of this case.
The Committee considered that, in failing to report the coercion either to his employer or to the police, the Registrant breached Standards 2 and 8 of the GPhC Standard.
It added: “He had a professional duty to promptly report the concerns he had about what was happening and instead he continued to supply dangerous medication, knowing full well where that medication would end up. Kapil only admitted what he was doing after he was confronted by his employer. As a result of his failure to speak 12 up, over 2000 bottles of codeine linctus made their way out of the legitimate supply chain and very likely ended up being misused by vulnerable individuals.”
In his submission to the Committee, Kapil unequivocally accepted that his fitness to practise was impaired at the time of his convictions and of the conduct on which they were based. He also accepted that he ought not to be allowed to return to practice until his suspended sentence has elapsed, in November 2023. However, he had already been suspended from practice for four years and so he hoped that after the end of his suspended sentence, following a review, he would be allowed to return to the register.
He understood and said: “I do believe that my actions had an impact on public safety”. He said that he should have been struck off the register three or four years ago closer to the time the events came to light. However, he asked the Committee to take into account that he has now been suspended for four years and if he were to be removed today then he would not be able to apply for restoration for another five years. This would mean, in effect, a sanction of nine years or more, and the delays since the events were through no fault of his. If suspended today, however, he would have the opportunity to return in about a year and prove further how he has changed at a review hearing.
The Committee was mindful that the purpose of sanction in regulatory proceedings is not to punish the pharmacist, but to protect patients and the wider public interest. However, the effect of some sanctions may be punitive. It added: “The Committee should balance the public interest against the Kapil’s own interests and should apply the principle of proportionality.”